The National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT) , Ibadan, on Tuesday commenced the training of more than 40 selected farmers in Ebonyi on the benefits of some horticultural commodities.
Dr Abayomi Olaniyan, Acting Executive Director of the institute, said at the opening of the programme at Uburu, Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi, that emphasis would be on planting and usage of Telfaira (pumpkin), Irvinga (African mango) and Occimum crops (scent leaves).
Olaniyan said horticultural commodities are viable and sustainable sources of household income, employment generation and capable of enhancing Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and revenue.
“It is pertinent to note that Nigeria has comparative advantage in the production of telfaira, irvinga and ocimum and the trainees are expected to effectively cultivate and utilise them for maximum benefits.
“Telfaira is an important leaf and seed vegetable of great economic importance which is in high demand and widely consumed in Nigeria.
“The leaf is highly nutritional, medicinal, has high production prospect with retail and wholesale market structure from within and outside Nigeria.
“The seeds are essential in amino acids, can be compared with soybeans meal with 30 percent protein and high percentage of non-drying oil,” he said.
He said that irvinga, also known as African mango or ogbono, is high in healthy fats and contains high level of protein in its nuts.
“Occimum leaves and stems are used internally to treat cold; especially chest-cold, fever, headache, flatulence, diarrhea, dysentery and post-partum problems among other ailments.
“It possesses strong antiviral, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties due to the presence of compounds such as ethanol, vicenin and orientin,” he said.
He said that NIHORT has the mandate of conducting research into genetic improvement, production, processing, utilisation and marketing of fruits, vegetables, ornamental plants and spices among others.
“We seek to create awareness among stakeholders and deliberately cultivate a widespread attitude of employing improved production techniques and adding value to horticultural commodities,” he said.
Chief Linus Okorie, the member representing Ohaozara, Onicha, Ivo Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, said he facilitated the training programme for his constituents to empower them.
Okorie, represented by Mr Wilson Okereke, his Senior Legislative Aide, urged the trainees to be serious in the course of the training programme in order to acquire skills and solve various nutritional and health needs.
“The trainees would be meaningfully supported to commence commercial ventures with the horticultural commodities as part of my empowerment programmes for the people,” he said.
Mrs Betraiuce Odii, one of the trainees, thanked NIHORT and the lawmaker for organizing the programme.
She promised to make good use of the knowledge acquired during the training.
Participants at the forum were drawn from Ohaozara, Onicha and Ivo councils making up the federal constituency.
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