Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, on Monday identified cassava as cure for Vitamin A deficiency.

Adesina said this at the opening ceremony of the 16th Triennial Symposium of the International Society for Tropical Root Crops (ISTRC) held at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta.

The theme of the symposium is “Root and Tuber Crops for Global Development and Climate Change.”

The minister, represented by Dr Matthew Fregene, Permanent Secretary in the ministry, said that about 40 per cent of Nigerian children of school age were deficient in Vitamin A.

“Deficiency in Vitamin A has blinded, maimed and killed more children than any other vitamin deficiency,” he said.

He said that three pro Vitamin A rich cassava varieties had been released by different international agencies.

The minister said that more than 10,000 stems of the varieties were being multiplied and ready for distribution to farmers.

Adesina urged the participants to take advantage of the resilience the root crops offered to develop plans to bring the crops into mainstream food markets.

The minister said that Nigeria remained the highest world producer and consumer of cassava and yam.

Prof. Olusola Oyewole, the Vice-Chancellor of the institution, said that roots and tubers provided opportunities for sustainable poverty alleviation and food security more than any other staple foods produced in the continent.

Oyewole said that the university would partner with industries, donors, non-governmental organisations and other interested parties to expand root and tuber crops initiatives for viable commercial ventures.

Chief Kola Jamodu, Chairman, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), said that root crops had immense socio-economic importance for both household and industrial users worldwide.

Jamodu called for increased production of the crops.

“It will impact positively on Nigeria’s economy in the area of employment generation and wealth creation,” he said.

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