Taiwo Oluwadare, Ibadan
The member of House of Representatives representing Ndokwa/Ukwuani federal constituency of Delta State, Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai, has collaborated with the National Horticultural Research Institute with headquarters in Ibadan, Oyo State, to train farmers of his constituency on plantain and pineapple value chain.
Speaking at the training which took place in Kwale, Ndokwa West Local Government Area, Special Assistant to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State on Community Development, Hon. Obije Olokoh, said the essence of the training and empowerment programmme was to bring dividends of democracy to the people and to develop agriculture in order to diversify the revenue base of the Delta state and Nigeria.
Corroborating him, the facilitator of the empowerment programme, acknowledged that his “people were majorly farmers and have comparative advantage in plantain and pineapple farming, a reason he decided to train them on the value chain development of these crops to make more income for their family, help to improve their life, promote cottage industries, generate employment and even to increase Nigeria’s GDP to bring revenue to the state”.
Hon. Ossai added that it was also the direction of the agriculture development policy of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, saying the farmers trained would be given Starter Packs to put the knowledge gained in the training to action immediately.
On his part, Ag. Executive Director of NIHORT, Dr. Abayomi Akeem Olaniyan, represented by the Director of Research in the Institute, Dr. Stephen Afolayan, said that plantain and pineapple were important horticultural commodities, adding that horticulture remained source of household income, employment generation, enhanced GDP and government revenue.
He added that it takes usually small size of land to cultivate vegetables, fruits vegetables within short period to make huge income and generate further employment. He said horticulture, as an aspect of agriculture consists of production and development of Vegetables, fruit vegetables, fruit trees, spices and ornamentals-flowers.
The federal lawmaker appealed to the last batch of 100 farmers from the Ndowa East Local Government Area to take the training very serious by concentrating on all the aspects of the training for their own life improvement benefits and be involved in the demonstrations.
He said the council is the highest plantain producing local government area in Nigeria.
“We have engaged our experts from the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT) to train the farmers in various ways of growing plantain suckers, pineapple suckers and utilising these crops for different purposes,” he said.
Declaring the training programme open, he further said the training would expose the participants to the new area of making money particularly by converting the waste products of plantain to making of soap and pomade, and juice and blended juice processing from pineapple.
The National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT) has projected that a committed national policy on mass production of plantain and pineapple is capable of contributing 10 percent significant growth to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the next five years.
Speaking at a two-day empowerment and training programme for 400 farmers on horticultural (plantain and pineapple) value chain, the Training Coordinator, NIHORT, Dr. Lawrence Olajide Taiwo, said that agriculture currently contributes 24% to the nation’s GDP, without the input of horticultural crops.
He noted that if horticultural crops value chain development is given due attention in the agricultural system, it will contribute additional 10percent to the agriculture sector of the GDP.
Olajide, the programme coordinator, also said the training would expose participants on what it takes to cultivate plantain and pineapple through processing and maintenance and marketing to make money.
“Here in Delta state, we have trained train 400 farmers on horticultural value chain. In the next five years, if we continue the way we are going, horticulture will add about 10 per cent to whatever agriculture adds to the country’s GDP,” he said.
The training session which was held in Kwale, Ndokwa West Local Government Area of Delta State, drew trainees from the three Local Government Areas of Ndokwa/Ukwuani federal constituency, that is Ndokwa West, Ndokwa East, Ukwani and also from Ika Local Government area. The training session concluded with the last set of 100 farmers from the Ndokwa East.
One of the beneficiaries at the training expressed his gratitude to the organizers saying he has deeply benefited, noting that if this kind of training is exposed to as many people as possible, it will alleviate poverty and economic tensions people are facing hence income and more employment will be generated. He said the products produced can be exported because they are good, chemical free while the liquid soap and juice made, are products wanted in the developed countries.”