The Nigerian Online Newspaper

UniJos partners Plateau to tackle potato blight disease

The University of Jos is partnering with the Plateau State Government to tackle potato blight disease that has destroyed over 1,000 hectares of Irish potatoes farms in the state this farming season.
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Jos, Prof. Hayward Mafuyai, said that the collaboration became imperative in order to fight the scourge, which devastating effect has taken a toll on Plateau State’s economy.
Mafuyai stated this on Monday while declaring open a one-day stakeholders’ forum on: Potato production on the Plateau: current challenges and prospect.
It was held in the institution.
The VC, who was represented by the Director, Office of Research and Development, Prof. Pam Dung Sha, said: “University of Jos is concerned because of the adverse effect it has brought on the people.
“Farmers are witnessing low yields, consumers are taking poor quality products and the low output has led to reduced supply to domestic and some markets in West African region.”
Mufuyai said the institution is committed to becoming a research intensive university and called on other state governments within the university’s catchment area to collaborate with it to find solutions to the problems confronting the country.
On his part, Commissioner for Agriculture, Stephen Barko, said that over 1,000 hectares of potato farms had been attacked by the blight in 2014 out of the 250,000 hectares cultivated annually.
Barko lamented that the situation had grown worse after 500 hectares, initially ravaged by the disease in Bokkos Local Government Area, when it started manifesting in Plateau State.
The commissioner said that state government was also collaborating with the National Seed Council as it was for difficult for it to address the scourge alone.
He revealed that the ministry had written a letter of intent to the African Development Bank, which he said was ready to commit the remaining N10 million that was left after the Fadama II programme in Plateau State.
Barko said that the money was meant to develop the value chain for potato production in Plateau State, adding that the state government had approved N68 million counterpart fund for potato production.
He said that the funds and some inputs had been given to potato farmers to enable them to increase the production of the crop.
Speaking further, the commissioner disclosed that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture has approved a staple crop processing zone for potato and fresh produce in Plateau State to be located in Bokkos LGA.