Following are the details of the news:

As part of efforts to arrest capital flight and conserve the nation’s dwindling foreign reserves through imported fruits juice concentrates, vegetables et all, and cash into the ever expanding global fruits and vegetables market- today valued at over 300 billion dollars, the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) has secured a technical cooperation agreement with the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) to build capacity among local farmers in the country to develop the fruits and vegetables value chain.

In line with the procedure of TCP, lsDB nominated Pakistan as the provider Country with experts from the lnstitute of Food and Nutritional Sciences (IFNS), PMAS-Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi. This diagnostic visitation and training in Nigeria is a follow up to the study visit by Nigerian delegation led by RMRDC from 19th- 25thJune, 2022.

Speaking at the opening session of the 5-day train-the-trainer programme organized for local farmers drawn from the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), National Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI), among others, the Director-General of the Council, Professor Hussaini Doko Ibrahim had this to say: “As you all know, agriculture plays a vital role in our economy, and the fruits and vegetables sector holds immense potential for growth and prosperity. However, there are several challenges that hinder its progress, and it is our responsibility to address them collectively.

“Firstly, we must focus on providing training to all the value chain actors to address the value chain development from production to table farm, by providing them with the necessary training and resources, they could be empowered to adopt sustainable farming methods, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) resulting in higher yields and better-quality products.”

Also speaking at the commencement of the 5-day event, Coordinator of the programme, Mrs Asabe Mustapha said that the essence of the program was to enhance the capacity of the participants and that agriculture, and its value chain were critical to the growth of every economy.

“There are a lot of economic benefits to tap into the utilization of local raw materials for industrial operations.

“With proficiency in fruits and vegetables processing, many people can become self-reliant and empowered,” she said.

She urged participants to take the training seriously in order to enhance their personal earnings.

Mrs. Mustapha further stated that the RMRDC/IsDB Reverse Linkage Programme annually distributed improved agricultural seeds to farmers.

“We are into capacity building for best agricultural practices, we also collaborate with stakeholders to develop new and improved seeds varieties,” she said.

The five-day training which has been phased for the three zones of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Kaduna, Zaria and Lagos respectively, features Experts Training/Capacity Building on Value Chain and Product Development, Food Processing and Preservation, Development of Fruit Juice Concentrates and Food

Safety, was anchored by the duo of Professor Dr Arif Ahmad and Dr Rai Muhammad Amir both of the IFNS.

The collaboration is also expected to leverage on the following deliverables:

  • Entrepreneurship development on citrus, tomato and other available fruits
  • Need assessment of Nigeria in the food processing of fruits and vegetables
  • Identify deficiencies in fruits and vegetables processing sector and providing good knowledge of GAPs, GMP, and other prevailing Quality Systems

It is equally noteworthy that developing the local fruits and vegetables value chain will requires a comprehensive approach that addresses infrastructure, capacity building, market linkages, and consumer awareness. Through this collaboration, Nigeria, can unlock the immense potential of this multibillion-dollar sector, whilst creating economic opportunities for farmers, improving food security, job and wealth creation and further contribute to the nation's GDP.