The Executive Director, National Horticultural Research Institute, Ibadan, Dr Abayomi Olaniyan has described pineapple as an economic crop with huge potential for foreign exchange earnings and job creation.
Olaniyan made the remark on Tuesday during a training programme organised by NIHORT in Ibadan on pineapple production for unemployed youths and women.
Olaniyan said pineapple production could help to ensure food security, job creation and launch the country on the path of self- sufficiency thereby improving the lives of the populace.
He said pineapple fruits were used mainly for fresh consumption and fruit juice, while in some parts of the world the fermented juice is used to make vinegar and alcoholic spirit.
“The leaves can be used in three forms, fresh, dried and in silage, the fibres in some countries are exploited for paper production,’’ he said.
Olaniyan stressed the need for awareness and advocacy as well as the importance of adopting good nursery practices in the production lines of pineapple.
According to him, this will address the pitfalls associated with production practices in terms of pests and export competitiveness.
He also called for adequate knowledge on post harvest handling practice and processing technologies.
He said that the knowledge would go a long way in reducing post-harvest losses in the commodity value chain.
Olaniyan said that pineapple is an important mandate crop of NIHORT.
He called on the stakeholders, especially participants, to enhance the potential of the crop for sustainable livelihood and national economic development.
“I make a pledge on behalf of the institute to make available to your advantage the varieties of expertise domiciled in NIHORT.
“We will also liaise with relevant stakeholders to support and promote your ventures,’’ he said.
Also speaking, the NIHORT Governing Board Chairman, Maj.-Gen. Mohammed Garba said that pineapple could be processed into jams, syrups and dried fruit chips for local and foreign markets.
According to him, NIHORT is not only the centre of excellence in horticulture crop research but also has the necessary capacity for production, processing and marketing of fruits, vegetables and spices.
“I sincerely hope that the knowledge acquired by the participants during the training shall be deployed to productive use so that Nigeria can achieve its desired food security,’’ he said.
Also, the coordinator of the training, Dr Olutola Oyedele said that pineapple is a major income earner for livelihood and equally a major crop grown in the South-West.
Oyedele said the programme targeted unemployed youths and women because they could be major actors along the pineapple value chain.
She, therefore, urged the participants to take good advantage of the training to be self employed and better their lots.
One of the participants, Dorcas Damilola, said the training would enable her to be gainfully employed.
“At the end I will be equipped with basic information about how to successfully reproduce a thriving pineapple fruit business, which will provide employment for many at the end,’’ she said.