ABEOKUTA – The Federal Government has been urged to improve support for the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), to enhance their capacity to produce enough food for the country.
Vice- Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Ogun State, Prof. Kolawole Salako, who stated this at a Special Session for Cassava Adding Value for Africa Phase 2 (C: AVA 2), during the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST) 42nd Conference and Annual General Meeting, said if empowered, Nigerians have the capability to feed themselves.
The Don said through the research activities of the university, CAVA and NIFST, SMEs have evolved into producing varieties of food products, particularly from cassava to feed Nigerians.“If the Government can back them particularly by making sure that their products can sell, honestly Nigerians can feed Nigerians.”
Salako, who pointed out that the event is apt, coming at a time when the World Food Day is being celebrated, said it is an avenue for the University, CAVA and NIFST to showcase its contributions to food security.
“We are involved in production, processing and presenting cassava on the table in different forms. So what this is all about is to tell Nigerians that we are not sleeping as individuals and as an institution.”
Speaking on the contributions of FUNAAB in providing food for the country, he said: “We are highly involved in intensive and economic production of some agricultural commodities, particularly cassava. We are also involved in Oil Palm production and horticultural products. We have translated all these to some products.
“You may not see them in raw form, but we have our Cashew nuts that we sell, we have the Cassava Processing Industry for Garri and Fufu, we have a bakery for production of bread, we have a unit for Honey production and other things that we are highly involved in.”
The Vice Chancellor revealed that the university is now operating at a bigger scale. He said, “now, we have started expanding gradually, in March, we opened a cassava processing factory, bigger than what we had before and with that we have improved on the scale at which we process cassava. FUNAAB is highly involved, not just in teaching, not just in research, but even in production for Food security.”
Salako who also solicited renewed support for cassava bread by the Federal Government said the university’s scientists who were originally involved in the conceptualisation of the bread are available and willing to offer their services.“We will appeal to the Federal Government to encourage our scientists because we can do it right in FUNAAB, and I want to tell anybody who cares to hear that if you give us money, you get value for your money.”
Speaking on the University’s activities in terms of extension services and assisting the communities in food production, the Vice Chancellor said: “We have distributed quite a number of highly improved varieties of cassava stem and some other crops. Presently we are involved in African Cassava Agronomy Initiative, although that is basically an IITA project, but we are involved in coordinating the activities all over South West and the idea is to make available improved varieties of cassava, to encourage farmers to grow with technologies that will improve their yields.”