National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), Ibadan, on Tuesday, trained no fewer than 38 unemployed youths and women on tomato, telfairia (Ugwu vegetable) and okra production in Ogun.
The two- day training was held in Abeokuta, with beneficiaries drawn from some local government area in Ogun.
The beneficiaries were also trained on value addition on the items.
The training programme was declared open by the Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Areola Odedina, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr Dotun Sorunke.
Odedina, who said that the programme was in collaboration with NIHORT, stressed the need for training farmers, especially the youth, on horticulture.
Odedina said that the training was in tandem with the state government’s agenda on agriculture, adding that it would help boost productivity, create more jobs and reduce wastage in the crops through value addition.
He urged the participants to take advantage of the programme and spread all what they had learnt to fellow farmers in their various local governments in order to increase productivity.
Executive Director, NIHORT, Dr Abayomi Olaniyan, represented by the Director of Research, Dr Adetula Olagorite, said that the training focused on the economic importance of the items, which, he said, were in high demand and widely consumed in Nigeria.
Olaniyan said that the participants would be trained on the production of the commodity and value addition in processing, storage, utilisation, economics of production, marketing and record keeping.
According to the director, tomato is a profitable horticultural crop that provides income to farmers and the agents involved in its production and marketing.
“Nigeria is the 14th largest producer of tomato in the world, second in Africa, 13th largest importer of tomato paste in the world and third largest importer in Africa.
“Nigeria currently produces 2.3 million metric tonnes, against the 1.8 million metric tonnes produced two years ago, while the national demand is three million metric tonnes.
“Also, there is high prospect in production of telfairia (Ugwu vegetable) and marketing within and outside the country. Okra also has potential to increase income of farmers.
“To reduce post-harvest losses, we have to teach the farmers on how to add value to the produce and generate more income,” he said.
On his part, Chairman, NIHORT Governing Board, Maj.-Gen. Mohammed Garba (rtd.), said that the training was a capacity-building instrument necessary to equip citizens with skills and competencies necessary in horticulture value chain.
Garba added that it would ensure sustainable agricultural development, improve individual income and economic empowerment.
He urged participants to make use of the horticulture value-chain training, saying that the country would achieve the much-desired food security and self-reliance in agriculture, if put into practice.
Responding on behalf of the participants, Mr Adeniyi Bola, Miss Adedeji Fola and Mr Adesanya Gbolade, thanked the organizers, pledging that they would make judicious use of the training and also transfer the knowledge to other farmers in their respective communities.