Group trains students on cassava planting


 An international agriculture organization, Harvestplus Nigeria, on Monday said it had trained students of Federal College of Agriculture (FECA), Akure, on vitamin A cassava production, using cassava planting machine.
The Country Manager of the organisation, Dr Paul Ilona, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan.
Harvestplus is an international organization which leads a global effort to improve nutrition by developing and disseminating staple food crops rich in vitamins and minerals.
Ilona said the Planter was introduced to increase production, reduce production cost and make production of cassava less stressful.
He said it was also introduced to reduce the drudgery associated with cassava production and mechanize agriculture with technologies to attract youths.
``Cassava planting is traditionally managed in a rudimentary way; if we want youths to come into agriculture, key drudgeries that make agric labour intensive must be removed.
``If we don’t find alternative to manual labour, agriculture will be so terribly affected that in the next 10 to 15 years we will be suffering.

``For Nigeria to meet its food requirement, there is a strong need to commercialise and introduce technologies that will reduce drudgery in production.
``The only way we can stem food importation is to truly promote agriculture to a large extent and make it easier,” the manager said.
He also said that depending on the efficiency of use, a planter can plant 10 hectares in a day.
``To plant one hectare comfortably in a day, it will take 10 people planting at the same time. So, if it gives 10 a day, it means saving 100 persons planting on the farm; it saves labour.
``The planter is more beneficiary to farmers who have large farm of between 10 and 20 hectares. To make it easy, farmers can come together to plant in a large land so that the planter can function within the same environment.
``In rural areas, the planter can be made available to farmers on request, the planter came from Brazil; we are discussing with fabricators on how to produce them locally,” he said.
Ilona stressed the need for the government to add value to the curriculum of agriculture institutions, adding that there is need to shift from theory to practical studies.
``We train students of FECA to teach them how to manage commercial farming so that we will not have problems when investors come; it’s in line with our dream to train farm managers in Nigeria.
``Very soon, we shall extend the training to students of other agriculture institutions,” he said.

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