The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina (CON) represented by his Technical Assistant, Dr. Mathew Fregene delivering the former’s speech while eminent personalities listen attentively.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina (CON) represented by his Technical Assistant, Dr. Mathew Fregene delivering the former’s speech while eminent personalities listen attentively.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina (CON) has assured that the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) of President Goodluck Jonathan’s Administration will restore the nation’s lost glory, through maximum utilisation of the socio, economic potentials of Root and Tuber crops in the country.

Dr. Adesina who was represented by Dr. Mathew Fregene gave the assurance while declaring open, the 16th Triennial Symposium of International Society for Tropical Root Crops (ISTRC), held in the Professor Mahmood Yakubu Lecture Theatre of the University.

The Minister disclosed that the Federal Government through ATA has put together a package of technology, finance, policy reform, infrastructural development, market infrastructures and political will, to rebuild the nation’s agriculture and achieve drastic reductions in poverty like it happened in China, Brazil, Thailand and Malaysia.

According to him, the corrective measure is imperative because the nation, “with an excellent climate for crop production and with only 42 percent of its 79 million of hectares of arable land under cultivation”, can no longer be expending a whooping sum of N1.2 trillion on importation of wheat, rice, sugar, fish and others.

Consequently, Dr. Adesina said the Federal Government remained committed to the exploration of the socio, economic potentials of root and tuber crops, in stemming the tide of food crisis in the country.

Besides, the Minister further informed that Government’s intervention through ATA include the launch of 20 percent High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) in Cassava bread and 30 to 40 percent HQCF of other confectionaries, 50 percent support for two bags of fertilizer and 100 percent support for seeds to farmers through Government Growth Enhancement Support (GES).

Also speaking, Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun said his administration is definite in its approach to agriculture.

Senator Amosun who was represented by his Deputy, Chief Segun Adesegun said the State Government was committed to ensuring that the people of the State can feed themselves through Agriculture.

He expressed confidence, that in the next four years, the State Government will start exporting Garri (Cassava Flakes) and other local produce, so as to boost foreign earnings.

In his Welcome Address, the University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Olusola Bandele Oyewole said “FUNAAB has invested heavily on result oriented pro-poor impact oriented market approach through information gathering, dissemination and provision of basic technological infrastructure to small-holder farmers and processors”.

Besides, the Vice-Chancellor stressed that the University has demonstrated innovative approaches to value addition on agricultural commodities, most especially cassava.

Professor Oyewole further disclosed that FUNAAB in partnership with various institutions has developed appropriate post harvest technologies for the processing of root and tuber crops, adding that this was attested to by Calestrus Fuma in her book, The New Harvest Agricultural Innovation in Africa.

According to him, FUNAAB’s partnership with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) produced two (2) major landmarks research efforts, namely the soyabean research and the cassava flash-dryer development.

He revealed that as a result of the achievements aforementioned, FUNAAB and IITA jointly won the 2008 CGIAR Regional Award for Outstanding Agricultural Technology in the Sub-Saharan Africa Region.

Professor Oyewole also disclosed that the University in conjunction with the Office of the President on Food Security, IITA, National Institutes, Universities, Cassava Growers, Cassava Processors Associations, Equipment Fabricators, Flour Millers Association and Regulatory Agencies has ensured the implementation of the ten percent (10%) high quality cassava inclusion in wheat flour programme.

Professor Oyewole, however, solicited for partnership with the University in the areas that will not only provide food-sufficiently but will also create employment opportunities and poverty reduction.

According to him, the programmes and schemes of the University that are seeking for partnership include the Graduate Farming Employment Scheme (GRADFES) and Community Based Farming Scheme (COBFAS).

In his Welcome Address, the President of ISTRC, Professor Andrew Westby said “Food Security is no longer a term associated with the developing world” adding that “the United Kingdom’s Research Council now have Food Security Programme”

He informed that great progress is being made in cassava biotechnology with the modern molecular biology sequencing techniques, which according to him, has enabled the sequencing of many cassava genotypes.

In his short remark, the President of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Chief Kola Jamodu (OFR), said apart from meeting the food, health and nutritional needs of the people, the economic importance of the crops cannot be over-emphasized.

He expressed joy that the “backward integration policy” of the Government is yielding some positive results, as some manufacturing companies are already utilising root and tuber as raw materials for their products.

In his Goodwill Message, former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Prince Bola Ajibola said Crescent University, which he founded now has 148 hectares of land, cultivated for Cassava, to boost the Institution’s internally generated revenue and food production in the State.