Technology to collect farmers data across the country is set to receive a boost as HarvestPlus Nigeria builds a marketing portal called BioFort Stat to capture information of bio-fortified foods.
The Country Director of the organisation, Dr Paul Ilona, made the disclosure on Thursday at a meeting of HarvestPlus with Partners Workshop, held at the International Institute of Tropical Research (IITA) in Ibadan.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that bio-fortified foods are crops improved through agronomic practices which increases the nutritional quality of foods through the use of modern biotechnology for crops like pro-vitamin A, orange-fleshed sweet potato, maize and cassava.
HarvestPlus improves nutrition and public health in Nigeria by promoting cassava and maize that provides more vitamin A in the diet. We work with over 60 partners drawn from government, business, and civil society.
It supports the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) to breed, test, and release vitamin A cassava developed through our partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). Cassava is one of the most widely consumed food staples in Nigeria.
Ilona said that the portal which would be launched officially in November would have data uploaded on the portal at the end of July that would help to spur and sustain investments.
“On the Information Technology, we have built a marketing portal called the Biofort Stat which is conceptualised along Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) Stats. Today, if you want any reference in agriculture, you are almost bound to quote FAO statistics.
“After our meeting with our partners in FAO to find an easy way to capture information on the bio-fortified food sector, we thought if we are to contribute to the bio-fortified food sector, data must be important to us.
“Which is why we are complimenting FAO stats. At the same time, use that information to spur investment and help sustain investments. We hope that by the end of July we would have been able to upload information and make it available to people.
“It will be officially launched in November during the Nutritious Food Fair (NFF) to be held in IITA premises,’’ he said.
The country manager added that the main objective of HarvestPlus was to encourage increased production of bio-fortified foods to fight malnutrition in the country.
According to him, the firm is partnering with small and medium scale companies to encourage production of vitamin A cassava and maize for rural food consumption and industrial application.
“To develop products that will be nationally accepted and are distributed to reach a very good percentage of vulnerable malnourished.’’
Ilona also said that HarvestPlus shall have over 100 on-farm trails across the country for cassava and maize that are expected to contribute to training people to get people to understand what agronomic requirements could enhance the yields of their crops.
“The challenge we have is to ensure that agricultural investments become sustainable and successful,’’ he said.
According to Ilona, government and stakeholders must re-strategise about agriculture, as an average Nigerian farmer does not take risks, they hardly are open to accept new agriculture technologies.
He said that this meant, investors needed to put up successful models for new and existing farmers to copy from.
NAN reports that the partners were drawn from states in the South-East; South-West, South-South and North-Central, who shared their success stories so far in the last three years.