Lagos - A pressure group in the cassava industry urged Nigeria to bar the importation of the product as it is having a negative impact on local farmers.
The calls follow announcements by the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and other groups that they had started the distribution of 10 million vitamin A cassava stems imported from Brazil to 15 million farmers across Nigeria.
The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) described the development as “completely absurd”, saying the distribution of the so-called Vitamin A cassava imported from Brazil violated the rights of Nigerian farmers.
"This development is a rude shock. It is an affront that IITA and its front groups are all masquerading on behalf of big agri-businesses and the biotechnology industry to supplant local staples in favour of foreign ones in the name of enriched vitamins.
"Tampering with cassava, which we have self-sufficiency in producing, is the height of attempts by IITA and its allies to colonise what we grow and eat in the guise of enriched food vitamin that merely promotes food dependency,” said ERA/FoEN Executive Director, Godwin Ojo.
“Nigeria is already the highest producer of cassava. Allowing the IITA to tamper with the crop is the surest way of ceding our food sovereignty to multinational companies whose modus operandi is to maintain a vice-like grip on our farmers strictly for profits and controlling what we eat.
"The government must compel Harvest Plus to recall distributed so-called vitamin A cassava stems and halt further distribution. Anything short of this is unacceptable," Ojo said
Harvest Plus, an organisation with strong links to the IITA, is distributing the stems.
Ironically, Nigerian cassava production is by far the largest in the world- a third more than production in Brazil.
- CAJ News