The vegetable industry in Nigeria is underutilised, resulting in a supply deficit of approximately 13 million metric tonnes, according to Mohammed Idris, Horti Nigeria’s Programme Director.
In a statement, he disclosed that Horti Nigeria was partnering with EnGRAIS to ramp up vegetable production in the country and close the supply gap.
He disclosed that the two firms organised a two-day workshop in Lagos recently, for the development of vegetable crops and Agricultural Input Packages to facilitate the growth of sustainable and inclusive agriculture in the vegetable sector.
He said, “Horti Nigeria is a Dutch-funded vegetable programme funded by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Nigeria. It is a four-year programme to support and facilitate the development of a sustainable and inclusive vegetable sector in Nigeria. It is part of the contributions of the people of the Netherlands and also to support the Nigerian government.”
According to Idris, the four-year programme, which targets smallholder farmers, started in 2021 and will end in 2025.
Idris added, “The project also aims to introduce innovation and technology among young people, especially greenhouses in Oyo and Ogun States, largely targeting the large market in Lagos.
“We are structured in four components: increasing production and productivity of the smallholder farmers, basically to increase their yield and introduce them to technology that is friendly to the environment. We are also introducing innovations in Oyo and Ogun States. We are also facilitating increasing access to finance because if we are introducing this technology, chances are that the small and medium enterprises and also the smallholder farmers will require funding.”
He explained the project was a collaboration between the government of Nigeria and the government of the Netherlands to see how they can support and develop the vegetable sector in Nigeria.
“There is a background to this. Nigeria has a deficit supply gap of about 13 million metric tonnes of vegetables in the country. Every year, we import tomatoes, and other vegetable crops to the tune of 13 million metric tonnes. The importation is draining Nigeria’s scarce forex” to import especially tomato paste into the country,” he remarked.
Professor Christogonus Dawodu of the National Agriculture Extension and Research Liaison Services, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, said the agricultural sector faced formidable challenges ranging from inadequate access to quality seeds and fertilizer.
He noted that there was a need for improved agricultural practices in the country.
According to him, these challenges, if not adequately addressed, have the potential to hinder the nation’s productivity, food security, and overall economic development.
“We applaud the initiatives undertaken by IFDC through the EnGRAIS project and Horti Nigeria. The workshop addresses key issues in the agricultural landscape and provides innovative solutions that can transform the lives of farmers.
“The collaboration between EnGRAIS and Horti Nigeria is representative of the visionary approach to expanding the reach and impact of agricultural interventions. By developing AIPs specifically tailored for vegetable crops and disseminating them through the FeseRWAM platform, we are taking a significant step to empower farmers with knowledge and resources that can enhance their agricultural practices and crop yields,” he said.