Plateau farmers lose N18bn to potato blight, says commissioner


Dr Hosea C, the Plateau State Commissioner for Agriculture says that farmers in the state lost potatoes worth N18 billion to potato blight disease.

Finangwal disclosed this when delegates from the National Root Crops Research Institute; Umudike paid the ministry a courtesy visit on Tuesday in Jos.

The commissioner said that out of the 150,000 hectares of land cultivated; 52,000 hectares were infected with blight resulting to 2,000 farmers losing N18 billion worth of potatoes.

Finangwal said that the ministry was proactive in reporting the case to Gov. Simon Lalong who immediately reported to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.

He said that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture sent delegates from the research institute to the state to seek ways to proffer solution in curbing the disease.

In his response, head of the team Dr Joseph Onyeka, Director; Biotech Department said that they were in Jos to discuss with stakeholders on how to develop viable resistant seedlings.

Onyeka said the team would also look into the tissue culture laboratory to make it functional.

“We want to find preventive measures, upgrade the tissue culture so that quality materials and disease-free materials can be gotten,” he said.

Onyeka said the team would also interface with the state government to work on storage facilities, tolerant varieties and processing facilities.

The director said that the team had come to help resolve reoccurring outbreak of the disease.

He said that farmers need to learn how to use fungicides as fungicides are protective not curative.

“Farmers must be sensitized and properly taught how to use fungicides and also take instructions from extension workers,’’ Onyeka said.

He said that the group of professionals available on ground would work with stakeholders in the state to resolve the problem.