Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong said President Muhammadu Buhari has facilitated the donation of $ 3.38 million to boost the production of Irish potato in Plateau for exportation in 2019.
Lalong disclosed this on Saturday at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of Potato Tissue Culture Laboratory to curb potato blight disease in Mangu, Mangu Local Government Area of the state.
“With the assistance of President Muhammadu Buhari and Federal Government, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has granted a facility of about $3.38 million to Plateau State Government with a view to boosting the state’s great potentials in the mass production of Irish potatoes for export.
“The construction of the Potato seed Tissue Culture Laboratory in the State will address the problem of low-yielding potato varieties and provide good quality seed. The output of potato production in the state had greatly reduced over the years due to the potato blight disease and degenerated seeds.”
Lalong said the laboratory would help in addressing potato diaseases to encourage farmers who abandoned their farms as a result of the loss recorded in the last farming season due to potato blight disease.
“The project is anchored on the promotion of Agricultural Investment, Financing Agricultural Development and Research for Agricultural Innovation and Productivity, all tailored towards increase on sustainable basis of smallholder farmers and rural entrepreneurs engaged in production, processing, storage and marketing as well as job creation. 60,000 jobs will be create out of which 50 percent are women to esnure food security.”
Lalong said his administration has paid the counterpart funds of N54 million inherited from the previous administration.
He noted that he inherited the project at a desolate stage which was at the verge of being taken away from the state to other states of the Federation on account of the failure previous administration to pay its requisite counterpart funds.
Lalong said that the project will go a long way in boosting the economic base of the state, as well as conserve foreign exchange and assure potato farmers in the state that their dark momenta are over.
The traditional ruler of Mangu, Mishkaham Mwagahvul, Nelson Bakfur urged Governor Lalong to revoke all contracts in Mangu Lacal Government Area.
He said the contractors have performed below the expectation of the people and urged the Governor to revoke the contracts and re-award the contracts to competent contractors.
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