FG trains Kano tomato, cowpea stakeholders
Farmers, exporters and aggregators of tomatoes, sesame seeds and cowpea as well as other stakeholders have been trained by the Federal Government in the international standards and procedures for export.
The workshop was conducted in Kano on Wednesday by the Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI) and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC).
The workshop included sensitisation on value addition, packaging and export of tomatoes, sesame seeds, and cowpea for farmers, aggregators and exporters to drive the gross domestic products and foreign exchange revenue to the country while emphasizing standards and international requirements.
The training was on good planting, pre-harvest management of crops according to international standards and good post-harvest handling practices to retain nutritional quality, facial value and wholesomeness of such foods and to avoid contamination as well as food loss.
The zonal training was in collaboration with Synergy Impact Consultants Ltd, and with the support of the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS), the Federal Produce Inspectorate Service (FPIS) and the Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria, was done at the zonal office of NSPRI in Kano, Lagos, recently.
The objectives were bridging the knowledge gap in exporting tomatoes, sesame seeds, and cowpea in Nigeria; building an innovation platform for effective engagement among stakeholders; developing appropriate research themes to improve production and post-harvest handling of the crops for exports and harnessing useful information from stakeholders for the development of a policy brief that would assist the government in making policies.
Executive Director of NSPRI, Dr. Patricia Pessu, said the institute was established for the quest for pest-free and safe agricultural commodity being exported from the west coast of Africa to Europe, and the institute had since continued to work assiduously to maintain the quality of export crops and crops consumed locally through basic and applied research with the active engagement of stakeholders.
“Although a lot has changed since the creation of NSPRI, our responsibility to ensure that agricultural commodity being exported from Nigeria is of the acceptable standard has not in any way reduced. The current economic downturn in the country necessitates diversification of the economy and the need to take proactive steps in positioning agriculture as a source of foreign earning,” she said.
Director of Research Operations at NSPRI, Dr Folorunsho Olayemi, said it was to equip stakeholders with knowledge and requirements for exports, which, in turn, would help galvanise the economy and create jobs.
“This training is held to help our farmers to access the international markets through farm produce. Nigeria has been doing exports of food and crops, but we have not been doing it right lately. Everywhere, our products are being rejected,” Olayemi said.
Deputy Director, Product Development, NEPC, Mr Moruff Salami, representing the Director-General of NEPC, Mr Segun Awolowo, said the country is blessed with agricultural resources, and these resources should be used to diversify the economy through product development, packaging and exports.