The National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT) has inaugurated a platform for tomato and onion farmers, dealers and processors in Kano.
The Executive Director of the institute, Dr Abayomi Olaniyan, who inaugurated the platform in Samawa and Kura Local Government Area on Tuesday, said that the platform would bring all stakeholders and farmers together to facilitate dialogue.
Abayomi said that onion was a national crop of high importance whether as a means of nutritional and food security, health, livelihood and economic development.
He said that the onion and tomato value chain had different components such as production, processing, marketing, input supply and transportation.
“Value is supposed to be added to the crop at various stages. However, a major issue in the onion value chain is storability, with resultant effect in the post-harvest loss.
“Tomatoes is undoubtedly one of the most important vegetables in Nigeria, it is essential for cooking, a valuable raw material in processed products such as paste, puree and ketchup.
“Tomatoes production in Nigeria is still short of what is demanded, production figure for fresh tomatoes is about 1.8 million tonnes while the annual demand is 2.3 million tonnes leaving the short of 500,000 tonnes,” he explained.
Represented by Dr Olutola Oyedele, he said that different actors existed along the onion value chain and also made a good living from different activities within the chain.
According to him, Nigeria ranks sixth amongst the top ten producers of green onion and eleventh in terms of dry onion production.
Abayomi added that the institute as part of keying into the Economic Recovery Growth Plan ”has 10 institutional projects covering different commodity crops to address different challenges of national concern”.
He said that one such project was for the establishment of innovation platforms for learning and change.
Abayomi said that the project at inception carried out different surveys in five of the six geo-political zones of states such as Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Delta, Benue, Nasarawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Imo, Abia and Rivers.
He said that the established innovation platform would be owned and managed by the stakeholders who were members of the platform.
He then implored them to take full advantage of the opportunity, contribute and synergise within the platform.
Some of the participants interviewed commended NIHORT for the gesture and promised to share the knowledge they acquired with other farmers.
The News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN) reports that tomatoes platform has 65 members while onion has 62 members and all the members are given transport fares to go back to their various villages. (NAN)