As Nigeria marks 60 years of independence on Oct. 1, 2020, the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT) has stressed the need for more concerted efforts, more energy and resources to harness its agriculture potential.
The Executive Director of NIHORT, Dr Abayomi Olaniyan, expressed the institute’s position in an interview with the
Newsmen on Thursday in Ibadan, stressing that “agriculture should be considered a serious business.
“Many economies of the world derive huge income from agricultural exports; Nigeria’s agriculture can be improved to contribute to food and nutrition security, raw materials for industries, employment and foreign exchange to the nation.
“Post harvest chains should be taken seriously so as to benefit from the comparative advantage the country has in the production of many crops.
“It is imperative to enlarge agricultural output for food security and for export, considering the comparative and competitive advantage the country has in the production of crops and livestock.”
The NIHORT boss, therefore, urged Federal Government to facilitate the supply of improved seeds and planting materials to farmers.
He said there should be development of appropriate technology through research and transfer of technologies through well-organised extension systems.
Olaniyan also underscored the need for promotion of adequate management practices such as maintenance of soil fertility; prevention of pest and disease invasion, among others.
He also called for provision of appropriate technologies for processing, packaging and storage of agricultural produce.
He noted that “post-harvest loss is high in the country especially during the peak season of production; it may be up to 50 to 100 per cent, depending on the crop.
“The need to ensure effective marketing system is imperative, capacity building and empowerment of smallholder farmers, especially women and youths.
“Improvement in research facilities is key to achieving food security and export promotion, while the need for provision of up-to-date research facilities is also germane.”
He explained that research institutions had come up with development to improved crop varieties and breeds of livestock as a number of agricultural wastes had been turned to wealth.
“For instance, in NIHORT, plantain peels and stalks have been used in the production of different types of soap, other horticultural wastes utilised to produce mushroom, animal feed and compost.
“Building capacity and capabilities of stakeholders on technologies was developed, this is crucial to improve capacity in the use of technologies, thereby translating to improved production along agricultural value chains.
“There is also development of soil and water management practices that will lead to increase in crop production.
“The institute, among other achievements, has developed protocols for rapid multiplication of improved planting materials for plantain/banana, pineapple and telfaria, using tissue culture propagation methods,” he added.