The Executive Director, National Horticultural Research Institute, Dr Abayomi Olaniyan, says that the Federal Government has a robust plan to boost local production of tomato and create employment opportunities in the country.
Olaniyan said this at a workshop on tomato and ginger production, and value addition on Saturday in Kano.
The executive director, who said that tomato production in Nigeria was below demand, added that the production figure for fresh tomato was about 1.8 million tonnes while the annual demand was 2.3 million tonnes.
According to him, the Federal Government’s tomato policy is to significantly reduce post–harvest losses of tomato fruits, boost production and attract investments into the entire value chain.
He said that the workshop had become imperative as a means of creating more awareness on the importance of the commodities in achieving food security, sustainable livelihood and economic empowerment.
He said: “The training will cover important aspects of the commodities’ value chains such as nursery practices, production practices, value addition, economics of production, marketing and record keeping.
The training will also cover tomato value addition and processing in order to reduce seasonal glut and inconsistent year round supply.”
Olaniyan further said that processing of tomato would reduce the quantity of tomato being imported into the country, especially during the lean season of supply.
He said: “It is evident that improved production techniques and value addition must be taken seriously to attract sustainable levels of investment and stakeholders’ interest in ginger.”
The executive director said that Nigeria was the third largest exporter of ginger in the world after China and India.
According to him, Nigerian ginger verities are acclaimed to be of superior quality and outstanding flavour, adding that they were preferred products in the international market.
He said that NIHORT had the mandate to conduct research into genetic improvement, production, processing, utilisation and marketing of fruits, vegetables, ornamental plants and spices.
Olaniyan then urged the participants to pay critical attention to all sessions in order to make the best use of the golden opportunity.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the participants were drawn from mainly tomato and ginger farming communities in Kano and Kaduna States.
Some of the participants, who spoke with NAN, commended NIHORT for the training and promised to extend the knowledge acquired to other farmers.