The state government said it had “written to the federal government for possible assistance to our farmers.”
Plateau Commissioner for Agriculture, Hosea Finangwai, says the state government has plans to mitigate losses incurred by potato farmers during the 2022 cropping season.
In an interview on Sunday, Mr Finangwai said the 2022 potato season recorded losses due to potatoes’ blight, a disease caused by a fungus-like organism (Phytophthora infestans) that spreads rapidly through the foliage and tubers of potatoes, causing collapse and decay.
“We have written to the federal government for possible assistance to our farmers.
“We were able to scale it down into a memo which was submitted to the federal government so that they will know the challenges our farmers have.
“We are hopeful that that particular submission will yield a positive result for our farmers,” he said.
Mr Fanangwai said he had also contacted the executive director of the National Crop Research Institute (NCRI) through the Agric-Research Council.
He said the NCRI executive director would lead a high-powered delegation of expert breeders, pathologists and tissue culture specialists to visit the farmers and farmlands.
“The essence is for them, based on the invitation of the Ministry of Agric, to come and interface with the government, see the devastating challenges farmers faced this year and see how we could address it together.
“We are not resting on our oars; we are making sure that we address this development,” he said.
The commissioner noted that prior to the outbreak of the blight infestation, plans were already on ground to boost potato production in the state up to export standards.
“Our intention is by the year 2023, we should be able to have a ratio of what we produce being exported, most especially potatoes and vegetables,” he said.
Mr Fanangwsi said Governor Simon Lalong had secured a facility from the African Development Bank to boost potato production, even before blight.
“Today in Plateau State, we have what we call the value chain support programme,e which has three components.
“Capacity building for farmers, infrastructure development and production are some key components of the Value Chain Programm,e which has been in progress even before the Blight infestation,” he said.