In a remark he described as ‘Listen, Invest and Help Others,’ Director of Research, the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), Dr Lawrence Taiwo-Olajide, while urging participants of training on plantation/banana value chain, said kits and knowledge acquired should be maximised for food security and sustainable agribusinesses.
Also, during capacity building for youths and women between 24 and 26 February 2021, the Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of NIHORT, Dr Abayomi Olaniyan, said exposing the participants to areas such as nursery production practices, orchard establishment, processing techniques, the economics of plantain production/processing, marketing and record-keeping, among others, has the potential to reduce poverty and create sustainable food businesses.
“Plantain is an important food security crop and source of income most, especially for smallholder farmers. Plantain is very easy to cultivate and maintain, unlike other cash crops that require so much time and money to maintain,” Dr Olaniyan said.
“It is a low capital agribusiness,” the executive director added, “very lucrative and almost every Nigerian soil is good for plantain production. Plantain fruits all year round, which makes the crop a more reliable all-season staple food crop.”
He explained that Nigeria has a comparative advantage in plantain production and is one of the major producers of plantain in the world, ranked fifth with a production figure of 3,182,872 tonnes as recorded in 2019.
The commodity is commercially viable and a money-spinner for those that understand the value chain, he said.
The slow rate of sucker multiplication is one of the major constraints to plantain production, and dependence on natural regeneration of plantlets for the supply of planting materials has been observed to be inadequate and encourages infection by fungi, nematodes and weevils.
Therefore, to lessen the effect of these biotic agents, rapid production of clean planting materials becomes imperative. Improved production techniques will shorten the gestation period and increase yield and ensure food security.
“To ensure success in plantain cultivation, there is the need for adequate skills and plan on land preparation, planting, good agronomic practices, disease and pest management strategies, as well as weed control,” Olaniyan said.
Additionally, processing plantain would help reduce post-harvest losses of the crop, which is about 60%. Plantain could be processed into flour, chips and other products for local consumption and export.
The chairman, the Governing Board of NIHORT, Major-General Mohammed Garba (retd), said the commodities had been linked to many health benefits and solutions, including a reduction in risk-related diseases not limited to diabetics and cancer, but also numerous nutritional value requirements for health management.
“It is in the light of these and in our nation’s agricultural economic development as well as our desire to achieve sustainable economic empowerment, and growth in the commodity value chains of these crops that make this training crucial, thereby build the capacity of our citizens, in particular our unemployed youths and women,” he said.
The capacity building was necessary to equip citizens with skills and competencies necessary in horticultural value chains of various crops that would ensure sustainable agricultural development, improve individual income and economic empowerment, he said.