By Mercy Omoike and Joan Odafe
Lagos – A farmer, Mrs Victoria Bolujoko, has challenged local farmers to cultivate more of Vitamin A cassava because of its numerous health benefits.
Bolujoko, a member of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Lagos State Chapter, made the plea in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos.
NAN reports that the Vitamin A cassava hybrid, is a modification of the regular cassava stems developed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), to help put an end to malnutrition due to Vitamin A deficiency on the African continent.
She urged local farmers to cultivate more of the Vitamin A cassava because of its inherent health benefits.
According to her, availability of the Vitamin A cassava produce, especially Garri, is scarce in local markets owing to the few number of farmers who cultivate it.
“Most of our farmers do not want to cultivate Vitamin A cassava because it contains more water than the regular cassava and is more strenuous to process.
“Some farmers will not cultivate Vitamin A cassava because the yields are not as much as that of the regular cassava, which has more starch.
“We, however, encourage local farmers to embark on the cultivation of Vitamin A cassava, as we should value our health more than quantity,” she said.
Bolujoko lauded the innovation of Vitamin A cassava by the IITA as she outlined the numerous health benefits derivable from the hybrid cassava produce.
“Vitamin A cassava is an agricultural innovation developed and sold to local farmers by IITA.
“Vitamin A cassava can be used to produce a variety of nutritious local staples. We get Cassava flakes popularly known as Garri and flour for baking pastries and snacks from it.
“The leaves of Vitamin A cassava can also be used to make healthy vegetable soups, unlike the regular cassava leaves,” She told NAN.
The farmer also outlined some of the major differences between the regular breed cassava and the Vitamin A cassava produce.
“The major advantage the Vitamin A cassava has over the regular cassava produce is that it has no starch.
“The Vitamin A cassava has a natural flavor and sweetness to it that the regular Cassava stems do not have.
“Vitamin A cassava has numerous health benefits that start manifesting within 24 hours of consumption. It is essentially good for better eye sight.
“There are success stories of complete eye sight corrections following six months continuous consumption of Vitamin A Garri,” she said.
Vitamin A deficiency is common in sub-Saharan Africa.
The new, yellow cassava can provide up to 25b per cent of daily recommended Vitamin A intake.
Since cassava is a major part of many people’s diets in Africa, introducing cassava bio-fortified with Vitamin A is an excellent innovation to improve health on a large scale.