Olaniyan disclosed this on Wednesday at the inauguration of a one-week empowerment and training programme for 150 youths and women farmers on Telfairia (Ugwu vegetable) production and tomato value chain in Kwale, Ndokwa West Local Government Area of Delta State.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the training is in collaboration with Dr Nicholas Ossai, member representing Ndokwa/Ukwuani Federal Constituency in Delta.
The executive director, who was represented by Dr Ephraim Nwanguma, Director Research in the institute, said that the national demand for tomato was three million metric tonnes annually.
He noted that the training would provide lots of potentials for participants to explore and to bridge the gap in telfairia production and tomato value addition for local market and export for foreign exchange and wealth creation.
According to him, the training on tomato and telfairia covers very interesting topics such as production, processing, storage, utilisation, economics of production, marketing and record keeping.
“Tomato is a profitable horticultural crop that provides income to farmers and agents involved in its production and marketing.
“Nigeria is the 14th largest producer of tomato in the world, second in Africa, but it is the 13th largest importer of tomato paste in the world and third in Africa.
“Nigeria currently produces 2.3 million metric tonnes against 1.8 million metric tonnes produced two years ago while the national demand is three million metric tonnes.
“Also, there is a high prospect in production of telfairia and marketing within and outside Nigeria,” he said.
He blamed post-harvest losses for tomato on inadequate logistics for storage and processing, while tasking the trainees to take advantage of the opportunities to process, package and store for sales during scarcity in order to generate income and create wealth.
On his part, Maj. -Gen. Mohammed Garba, Chairman, NIHORT Governing Board, said the training was considered as part of the holistic action in the nation’s drive for economic growth and job provision.
The chairman, represented by Mr Luke Chukwu, NIHORT board member, said, “it is remarkable to note that under the present administration, agriculture had been identified as critical multiplier sector with high potential for job creation.”
He lauded NIHORT and Ossai for the training and enjoined the beneficiaries to build on the experience to become self employed and to create wealth for themselves.
Ossai, represented by Mr Azaka Ossai, a Public Servant, said NIHORT had over the years trained and empowered many youths and women in the constituency through various agriculture programmes.
According to him, no fewer than 150 youths and women in the constituency have been enlisted to benefit from the ongoing training on telfairia and tomato cultivation.
He tasked the beneficiaries to take the training seriously, improve and contribute to the development of the country.
Responding on behalf of the participants, Miss Cecilia Ekpo, thanked the organisers of the training while pledging their resolve to practice and improve on the training.
“This is the kind of training we need now not giving of cash or buying of car for somebody but empowering people to become self- reliant in life”.