Permanent Secretary of the Plateau State Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Dr. Elias Pede has stated that potato blight disease is posing a serious challenge to the success of potato production in the state. The disease had resulted in more than 50 percent loss in the most severe cases. He made the disclosure during a sensitisation workshop for potato farmers in Jos, the state capital.
Continuous research using more blight tolerant varieties has enhanced increased yield recently, because more farmers have adopted varieties that are more tolerant to blight disease. Pede added that the realisation of this dream is premised on massive production and marketing of pre-qualified and selected product in target markets.
He pointed out that potatoes are highly priced globally, especially in none producing countries, saying Plateau state government in collaboration with AFDB was able to create an enabling environment for the state to key into the potato value chain support project, being an off shoot of Fadama 11 project implemented from 2004 to 2013.
The permanent secretary further commended the National Root and Crop Research Institute, NRCRI, Karu, for the great research work it is doing on potatoes to address issues relating to its production, pests and disease management and storage.
He disclosed that the state government is also involved in the reduction of cost of production for farmers through subsidies on agricultural inputs such as assorted fertilisers and tractorisation, all in the effort to enhance production and yield of Irish potatoes in the state.