Citrus and plantain and banana have been described as important economic and food security crop capable of improving livelihood and employment generation.
Major General Garba Mohammed, the chairman of National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT) Governing Board stated this recently during training and empowerment of unemployed youths on citrus nursery practices, plantain and banana rapid multiplication techniques.
Mohammed who was represented by Hon. Hazzan Abubakar, member of NIHORT Governing Board maintained that to achieve food security, sustainable production and economic empowerment in the commodity value chain, it is necessary to build capacity of stakeholders on improved nursery practices techniques.
He said: “it is remarkable that under the present administration of President Mohammadu Buhari, there are numerous capacity building programmes targeted at youths, women and men across the country. “This has led to improved performance of stakeholders in the various commodities value chain.
” NIHORT is the centre of excellence in horticultural crop research and has the necessary capacities and skills on production, processing and marketing of fruits, vegetables and spices. I sincerely hope that knowledge acquired during the workshop shall be deployed to productive use for country to be self-reliant in agricultural/horticultural value chain”.
Corroborating him, NIHORT Executive Director, Dr. Abayomi Olaniyan who was represented by Steven Afolayan, Hort-consult and coordinator, research and planning committee said the training covers very interesting items such as nursery production techniques, pest and disease management, nutrient management, value addition, record keeping and economics of production.
According to him, Nigeria is ranked the highest producer of citrus in Africa and is recorded as world’s 9th producing country with an annual estimate production of 3,325,958 metric tonnes. “Citrus nursery production is important for future development of the commodity value chain. The nursery production is a prerequisite for producing quality seedlings. It is important to note that nursery practices should be programmed to produce well grown and vigorous seedlings free of major pests and diseases as there is no substitutes for starting off with improved and quality nursery planting materials.
” putting efforts in quality seedling production offers scope for sustainable horticultural production. Additionally, establishment of nursery provides employment opportunities for technical, skilled, semiskilled and unskilled labour.
Plantain on the other hand is a unique and an important food security crop and as source of income for smallholder farmers in particular. Plantain is very simple to cultivate and maintain compared with other cash crops that require so much time and money to maintain. It is low capital agribusiness, comparatively lucrative and adaptive to almost every Nigerian soil.
“Plantain produces fruits all year round , which makes the crop more available and affordable as staple food crop”, he said.