The Federal Government has a robust plan to boost local production of tomato and create employment.
The Executive Director, National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), Dr. Abayomi Olaniyan, made this known at a workshop on “Tomato and ginger production, and value addition” in Kano, during the week.
Olaniyan, who said tomato production in Nigeria was below demand, put the production figure of fresh tomato at about 1.8 million tonnes, while the annual demand was 2.3 million tonnes.
He said the Federal Government’s tomato policy was to reduce post–harvest losses, boost production and attract investments into the value chain. Olaniyan said 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.
“The training will cover important aspects of the commodities’ value chains such as nursery practices, production practices, value addition, and 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,” he explained.
The executive director said processing of tomato would reduce the quantity of tomato being imported into the country, especially during the lean season of supply.“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,” he also stated, noting that Nigeria was the third largest exporter of ginger in the world after China and India.
According to Olaniyan, Nigerian ginger varieties are acclaimed to be of superior quality and outstanding flavor. He said 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 urged the participants, drawn from mainly tomato and ginger farming communities in Kano and Kaduna states, to pay critical attention to all sessions to make the best use of the golden opportunity.