NIHORT trains 100 on tomato, ugu value chains with N6m start-up kits

Efforts to mobilise youths and women to profitably play greater roles in value chain development by cultivating, aggregating, processing and storing, as well as marketing of the horticultural products necessitated the training of the participants, Dr Abayomi Olaniyan, Executive Director of the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), has said.

He said this during an opening ceremony of a course of training for another set of 100 women and youths on how to cultivate tomatoes and telfairia (ugu leafy vegetable) as well as how to add value to the horticultural crops as part of efforts to reduce unemployment in Nigeria.

A former minister of agriculture, Chief Audu Ogeh, had consistently claimed that Nigeria produces more tomatoes, yam, and other food items than it needs yearly, but post-harvest wastage accounts for intermittent scarcity of the farm produce.

The 100 trainees were also empowered with N60,000 each, running into about N6 million so that the trainees could to actively participate in the value chain.

The participants were selected throughout the country after expression of interest to get trained, the Executive Director of the institute, Dr Abayomi Olaniyan, said.

He reiterated that tomato production figure still stands at 1.8 million tonnes yearly, while demand in the country hovers around 2.3 million metric tonnes.

Chairman of the Governing Board of NIHORT, Major General Garba Mohammed (rtd), said there is no doubt that if the participants are trained well, could use knowledge acquired to prevent post-harvest losses, scarcity of the products and marginal increase in prices.

“And empowerment training is not only meant to empower them with self-reliance, but also to enable them to employ others. From the lecture they have started with, we hope that by the end of the training, they will be equipped to do well,” he said.

Dr Lawrence Olajide-Taiwo, Director of Research and Head of Procurement of NIHORT, said “We are training and empowering them on tomato and telfairia value chains to make them wealth creators using these commodities. At every stage of these commodities, there are enterprises that can be established to create wealth, employment opportunities and alleviate poverty.”

He also rationale for giving them financial assistance rather than inputs, saying, “We train them and expect them to use the financial assistance for farming or value addition. We cannot generalise for everybody because each of them has interest in a particular area. Giving them kits therefore becomes a difficulty. If you give them kits in an aspect that they do not like, they will not utilize such kits. We do not want to misplace priorities for them.”

Some of the participants who spoke with The Guardian expressed certain expectations, and said they would utilize the knowledge and resources for the intended purposes.

Miss Emmanuel Kehinde, one of the trainees, said “I learnt about the training through a brother, I applied and I was selected without bribing anybody. My expectation is to have more knowledge of how to plant tomato, especially, because I love to do that and I have a place I can plant. My mother cultivates tomatoes and I have learnt the rudiments before now. It is in Kogi State. I came from Kogi State. I want to have more knowledge of tomato cultivation, processing and packaging for sale.”

She is a graduate of Kogi State Polytechnic and she wants to be a tomato processor.

Yabajia Baba, from Niger State, was one of the participants too. He said one of his uncles staying and doing business in Oyo State informed me of the training.

“I was a farmer at a time. But I do business and politics now. I do not know much about tomato or ugu, but I will decide which one to do after the training,” he said.


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