700,000 metric tonnes of tomatoes required to meet national demand-NIHORT

The National Horticultural Research Institute(NIHORT) says 700,000 million metric tonnes of tomatoes are   required to meet the nation’s demand for it.

Dr Abayomi Olaniyan, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of NIHORT said this at a two-day training workshop in Abuja on Wednesday.

The training was organised by the institute for critical stakeholders in tomato and telfairia (pumpkin or `Ugu’ leaf) production and value addition.

“Though Nigeria is currently producing 2.3 million metric tonnes as against 1.8 million produced two years ago, more needs to be done to meet the three million metric tonnes national demand.

“Tomato production in Nigeria is still short of what is demanded particularly during the second and third quota of the year. While about three million metric tonnes is the national requirement, about 2.3 metric tonnes are the production.

“About two years ago, the production was 1.8 million metric tonnes but because of the trainings and technologies that NIHORT has perfected alongside other stakeholders, the production has increased by about 25 per cent.

“That is the reason we are getting the production figure of 2.3 million metric tonnes as against 1.8 million metric tonnes,” he said.

The chief executive officer said that one of the major reasons for the deficit was post-harvest loss, adding that about 40 per cent of tomatoes is often wasted.

He added that tomato nursery practices are other reasons for the deficit in supply, stressing that “tomatoes management is important for future development of the commodity value chain.

“Nursery is a basic need and prerequisite for producing quality seedlings. Putting efforts on quality seedling production offers scope for sustainable tomato production.

“Additionally, nursery provides employment opportunities for technical, skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled labour.”

On telfairia, known as `Ugu’ in Nigeria, Olaniyan noted that the pumpkin leaf is of high nutritional, medicinal and industrial value, adding that it was rich in protein, fat, minerals and vitamins.

According to him, there is high prospect in production and marketing of telfairia within and outside the country, saying basic knowledge on value addition was important.

He said the two-day training would cover tomato value addition and processing among other things, to reduce seasonal glut and inconsistent year round supply.

The NIHORT boss added that processing of tomato would help reduce the amount been imported into the country particularly “during lean season of tomato supply.”

He urged the participants to pay critical attention to all the sessions to make the best use of the opportunity.

He assured them of the institute’s readiness to liaise with relevant stakeholders to support and promote their various entrepreneurial skills along the value chain.(NAN)

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