Comrade Ikwunze Edozie, National President of Sweet Potato Producers Association of Nigeria (SPAN) has said that the Sweet potato industry has a significant potential to generate income and boost Nigeria’s economy like other agricultural crops if adequate investment is provided in the industry.
The president made the assertion during an exclusive interview with AgroNigeria, recently.
According to him, the sweet potato industry provides job opportunities for farmers as well as raising their income, adding that sweet potato is one of the world’s highest yielding crops per unit area with breather food value, exceeding that of rice.
Speaking further, he lamented over various challenges faced in the industry, resorting from climate change on small scale sweet potato producers in Nigeria, pest and diseases attack, among others.
His words: “There are constraints like increased pest and disease attack like weevils, there is drought losses of crop, reduction in the output of the sweet potatoes, increased cost of production and reduction in farmers income, and lastly, there is also unavailability of local and international market, lack of transportation, low prices, extension service and post-harvest losses.
“Our farmers lose so much funds and also the roots will have a short span life because of infestation by weevils damaging sweet potato roots, due to Increased fresh weight loss and rotting.
Meanwhile, he noted that the association has been able to proffer solutions to some of the challenges.
“Our association has done a lot for our farmer’s in protecting their farms with the new method on the Sweet Potato farming system & made it mandatory for members to always make use of clean and healthy planting materials, not the one infested with virus diseases or more drought tolerant varieties.
“Our farmers have undergone training on Sweet Potato value Chains and also SPAN is Advocating for all varieties of Sweet Potato value Chains across school, market places, Mosques, Churches, Health centers and we are also holding Seminars and Training from States to States to promote our mandate Crop.
“Our association is also working under the supervision of the sweet potato program, national root crop research institute Umudike for a lasting solution.” He added.
He however called for partnerships with international stakeholders to enhance effective sweet potato exports and exchange.
He said, “Sweet Potato Producers Association of Nigeria (SPAN) are looking forward to partner with international Agency to produce Sweet Potato for export market with a good price; The day-to-day administrative officer, National Executive, States Executive, LGA and Ward Executive are all on ground to partner with any Agency who is willing to sign an agreement with us.