The National Institute of Horticultural Research (NIHORT), Ibadan, Oyo State, has commenced a 2-day training for unemployed youths and women, on value addition for tomato farmers.
The training is taking place at the headquarters of The National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI), Badeggi, in Niger state.
Speaking at the opening ceremony on Wednesday, the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Institute, Maj.-Gen. Mohammed Abdullahi-Garba (rtd), said that the training was organized to build the capacity of the people.
He described tomato as an important economic and food security crop consumed around the world.
“Tomato is undoubtedly one of the most important vegetables grown in Nigeria and the commodity is capable of impacting positively on Nigeria’s agricultural economic development.
“The training is geared towards building the capacity of the participants, especially unemployed youths and women; this is a call towards the nation’s drive to economic growth,” he said.
He said the 25 persons benefitting from the training were drawn from eight local government areas of Mokwa, Edati, Lavun, Bida, Gbako, Katcha, Agaie and Lapai , saying that the trainees would be expected step it down to others in the LGAs in Niger state.
Similarly, Dr Abayomi Olaniyan, the Executive Director of the institute, said the training was part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s agricultural agenda on empowering youths and women in the society.
“This is a training to save foreign exchange and to make quality food available on the tables of Nigerians. Tomato production has increased from 1.8 metric tons three years ago, to 2.3 million metric tons now.
“To reduce post harvest losses; we have to teach the farmers how to add value to the produce and generate more revenues,” he said.
Olaniyan disclosed that the institute had the mandate to conduct research into genetic improvements, production technologies, processing, storage, utilization and marketing of fruits, vegetables, ornamental plants, amongst others.
According to him, tomato was an important mandate crop of the institute, as it had a number of technologies in the tomato value chain, to produce value added products.
“The short shelf life span and inadequate logistics for post-harvest handling, packaging, storage and processing, have contributed to high post harvest losses (35-100 percent) experienced in the commodity value chain.
“This has made the produce to be very expensive during some months of the year and to alleviate the menace, there is need to research and do training and retraining on tomato in order to reduce seasonal glut.
“This is to ensure consistent year round supply and reduce high importation of tomato paste into the country, “he added.
In her remarks, Dr Oluyemisi Adebisi-Adelani, Assistant Director/Head of Department, Farming Systems and Extension, NIHORT, said that farmers in Nigeria were producing the commodity in large quantities.
She said due to its perishable nature, there was the need to add value, so as to reduce the level of shortage and wastage being encountered by the farmers.
“There is also the need to add value to the product as paste or in powdered form, among others,” she added. (NAN)