The National Institute of Horticultural Research (NIHORT), Ibadan, Oyo state capital, has commenced a two-day geo-political training for unemployed youths and women on tomato value addition for farmers at the headquarters of NCRI, Baddegi in Niger state,
Speaking at the opening ceremony on Wednesday, Chairman, Governing Board of the institute, Maj.-Gen. Mohammed Abdullahi-Garba (rtd), said the training was organised to build the capacity of the citizenry .
He described tomato as an important economic and food security crop consumed across the world.
He said, “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 therefore to build the capacity of the participants,especially unemployed youths and women. The training is also part of the holistic moves towards the nation’s drive to economic growth”.NIHORT Executive Director, said the training was part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s agricultural agenda, especially to empower youths and women.
“This is also in the bid to save foreign exchange and to make quality food available on the tables of Nigerians. Tomato production has increased from 1.8 metric tonnes three years ago to 2.3 million metric tonnes now. So, to reduce post harvest losses, we have to teach the farmers how to add value to the product and generate more revenues.”
Olaniyan disclosed that the institute has the mandate to conduct research into genetic improvement, production technologies, processing, storage, utilization and marketing of fruits, vegetables, ornamental plants and spices.
According to him, tomato is important mandate crops of the institute as it has a number of technologies in tomato value chain such as value added products.
“The short shelf 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/product to be very expensive during some months of the year and to alleviate the menace, there is need to process tomato in order to reduce seasonal glut and inconsistent year round supply and reduce high importation of tomato paste and concentrates into the country,” he added.
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In her remarks, Dr Oluyemisi Adebisi-Adelani, Assistant Director/Head of Department, Farming System and Extension, NIHORT, said farmers in Nigeria were producing the commodity in large quantities.
“So, due to its perishable nature, there is the need to add value,so as to replicate the level of shortage and wastage being encountered by them. There is also the need to add value to the product as a paste or in powdered form, among other several ways to do so,” she said.