The member representing Ukuani Ndokwa East and Ndokwa West Federal Constituency of Delta State in the House of Representatives, Mr Ossai Nicholas Ossai, has flagged off an empowerment and training programme for 400 farmers on horticultural (plantain and pineapple) value chain.
Ossai, who declared the training session open on Monday in Kwale, Ndokwa West Local Government Area of the state, said that the trainees were drawn from the three LGA within his constituency.
He also said that the training programme would be extended to the Ika North East and Ika South LGAs because the people of the areas were predominately farmers and would be exposed to various sources of making money from Plantain and pineapple.
He said that the training session would be done in batches of 100 to accommodate all the trainees within the time frame.
He said that there was no doubt that the training would improve the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) of the people of the area, adding that agriculture was the way to go as alternative to oil economy.
According to Ossai, the training will expose the participants to a new area of making money particularly by converting the waste products of plantain for making of soap and pomade.
“We have engaged the experts from the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT) to train the farmers in various ways of growing plantain suckers, pineapple suckers and utilizing these crops for different purposes”.
He charged the participants to give attention to the training and to ensure that they take away the lessons that would improve their economy.
On his part, Dr Abayomi Olaniyan, Ag. Executive Director, NIHORT, said that plantain and pineapple were important horticultural commodities, adding that horticulture remained source of household income, employment generation, enhanced GDP and government revenue.
He said that the training on Plantain and pineapple value chain would include production technique, water management, value addition, economics of production and waste management.
“It is worthy of note that Nigeria has comparative advantage in the production of plantain and pineapple.
“Nigeria is the 5th largest plantain producing country in the world, it is very easy to cultivate and maintain unlike other cash crops that requires time and money to maintain.
“It is low capital agribusiness, very lucrative business and almost every Nigeria soil is good for plantain”, Olaniyan said.
He charged participants to pay critical attention to all sessions of the training in order to make the best use of the opportunity.
The Programme Coordinator, Dr Lawrence Taiwo, said that he had coordinated the training programme on horticulture in five states; Kwara, Ogun, Oyo, Ebonyi and now in Delta.
He said that the training would expose participants on what it takes to cultivate plantain and pineapple through processing and maintenance and marketing to make money.
According to him, what improves people’s life is knowledge and the people should be able to utilise the knowledge acquired to unleash the potentials in them.
“It is cheaper to tap into the business because we are using accessible local technology to harness the gains in horticultural value chain. Here in Delta, we are going t,o train 400 farmers on horticultural value chain.
“In the next five years, if we continue the way we are going horticulture will add about 10 per cent to whatever agriculture adds to the country’s GDP”.
Responding on behalf of the trainees, Mr Lucky Okwuji and Mrs Hellen Okebuse pledged their resolve to be committed to the training and to ensure that they make the best use if the opportunity to improve their welfare.