Nigeria is the 14th largest producer of tomato in the world and second in Africa even in spite of her current production of 2.3m metric tonnes of tomato against 1.8m metric tonnes produced two years ago, the country remains the 13th largest importer of tomato paste in the world.
The Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT) Ibadan, Dr. Abayomi A. Olaniyan has disclosed that the national demand of the produce stands at 3m metric tonnes annually.
Speaking at the training and empowerment program of over 150 persons from Ndokwa/Ukwani federal constistuency on tomato cultivation and telefairia (Ugwu) production held at Kwale, Delta State, the training was a collaboration between the institute and the Ndokwa/Ukwani federal constistuency representative at the lower chamber of the national assembly, Hon. (Dr.) Ossai N. Ossai.
According to the Executive Director who was represented by a director in the institute, Dr. Ephraim Nwanguma, inadequate logistics for storage and processing of the produce have contributed to high post harvest losses experienced in the commodity value chain which he said, made tomato to be very expensive during some months of the year.
To alleviate the menace, the NIHORT boss said there is need to process tomato in order to reduce seasonal glut and inconsistent year round supply adding that processing the produce would go a long way in reducing the quantities of tomotoes imported into the country especially during the lean seasonal supply and improve potentials in the county.
On Ugwu ( pumpkin leaves), he said: “Telefairia is an important leaf and seed vegetables which is of great economic importance. The leaf is of high nutritional, industrial and medicinal values rich In protein, fat, minerals and vitamins. There is a high prospect of the production of Teleferain and marketing within and outside Nigeria.
“The seeds are high in essential amino acid and can be compared with soya beans. The higly oil content of the seeds, makes it a potential source as raw matterial for vegetable oil industries”.
He implored the participants at the training to make the best use of the golden opportunity to improve themselves economically.
Addressing the participants, Chairman, NIHORT governing board, Major Gen. Mohammed Garba (rtd) explained that the two commodities are capable of impacting positively on the nation’s economic development adding that the training was therefore, considered part of the holistic action and activities in the national drive in economic growth by providing the teeming unemployed youth, men and women with skills to become self reliant.
“As our nation strives in its growth economically, capacity building becomes necessary to equip our citizens in general with skills and conpetences necessary in horticultural value chains of various crops that will ensure sustainable national development, improve individuals in and economic empowerment”.
In his remarks, the convener and member representing Ndokwa/Ukwani federal constituency in the state, Dr. Ossai, stressed the dire need for youths in the area to be self reliant using the various training and empowerment programs that have been initiated to change themselves Into employers of labour.
Represented by a community and political leader, the house of representatives member Mr Osaka Ossai, commended NIHORT for the wonderful knowledge it had imparted to youths in the area through various horticultural trainings.
Some of the participants including Mr. Jude Omenogor from Ndokwa west council area and Ms. Rasidatu Abdul from Ukwuani were full of praises for the initiators of the programme promising to utilise the trainning to change their world.