The National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT) has emphasised that the use of standardised farm inputs, kits and knowledge acquisition would make Nigeria to leapfrog from its present position as fifth ranked plantain producer in the world and contribute to food security. The Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of NIHORT, Dr Abayomi Olaniyan, made this known at a capacity building for youths and women in Abuja, where he exposed participants to areas such as nursery production practices, orchard establishment, processing techniques, economics of plantain production/ processing, marketing and record keeping, among others. To the NIHORT boss, this area of specilisation has the potential to reduce poverty and create sustainable food businesses in the country.
“Plantain is an important food security crop and source of income most, especially for smallholder farmers. Plantain is very easy to cultivate and maintain, unlike other cash crops that require so much time and money to maintain,” Olaniyan said, adding that “It is a low capital agribusiness, very lucrative and almost every Nigerian soil is good for plantain production. Plantain fruits all year round, which makes the crop a more reliable all-season staple food crop.” He explained that Nigeria has comparative advantage in plantain production and is one of the major producers of plantain in the world, ranked fifth with a production figure of 3,182,872 tonnes as recorded in 2019.
“The commodity is commercially viable and a money spinner for those that understand the value chain. “To ensure success in plantain cultivation, there is the need for adequate skills and plan on land preparation, planting, good agronomic practices, disease and pest management strategies, as well as weed control,” he noted. In his remark, the Director of Research, NIHORT, Dr Lawrence Taiwo-Olajide, explained to the participants that kits and knowledge acquired should be maximised for food security and sustainable agribusinesses.