The Sokoto State Government on Friday urged the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) to increase the distribution of improved tomato seedlings to more farmers, to boost the cultivation of the commodity in the state.
The Commissioner for Agriculture in the state, Alhaji Arzuka Tureta, made the appeal at the Council’s distribution of improved tomato seedlings to 70 farmers in the state.
He described the RMRDC’s efforts as a welcomed development as regards the arable land and mineral resources that abound in Sokoto State.
Tureta said that similar initiatives were anchored by the state government, in partnership with various agricultural institutions and agro-allied industries, through the out-grower schemes.
Earlier, RMRDC’s Governing Board Chairman, Alhaji Abdullahi Waziri, said the distribution of the improved seedlings was aimed at enhancing tomato cultivation through modern agronomic practices, especially among the rural farmers.
According to him, the improved seed is suitable to different soil contents with the aim of addressing the demand and supply gap in tomato industries.
Waziri noted that the effort was tailored toward harnessing the huge industrial potentialities of the staple crop in Nigeria.
“Annual production of tomato in the country is rising. At present over 1.8 million tonnes, while the national demand is about 24 million tonnes, leaving a huge deficit.
“There is an estimate of 40 per cent post-harvest loss usually recorded annually.
“In a bid to address the shortfall, RMRDC made arrangements and presented improved high-yield and soil-friendly seeds to farmers in Niger, Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Sokoto, Kano, Kaduna, Gombe and Oyo states,” Waziri said.
He noted that the donation of the improved seedlings was part of the council’s effort, to ensure the availability of raw materials as inputs for local resource-based industries.
According to him, the RMRDC is committed to the development of the capacity of the industrial sector of the economy.
“RMRDC is executing strategic plan (2018-2021), aimed at addressing the secondary raw materials needs of manufacturing industries, and competitiveness of the economy.
“Nineteen raw materials are considered strategic to economy at various points of their value chain.
“They comprise ginger, sesame fruits, shear nut, honey, cattle, milk and milk products, sweet sorghum, tomato and others; while in raw materials, we consider gypsum, lead, zinc, and ceramic,” Waziri said.
He noted that the gesture was part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s moves to diversify the economy and to promote the non- oil products for employment and the development of the nation’s economy in general.
The Chairman, Tomato Farmers’ Association, Sokoto State chapter, Alhaji Murtala Gagado, thanked the council for the support and expressed optimism that the effort would encourage increased farming in the state.
Gagado called for more investors in tomato industries, and urged the state government to ensure a friendly environment for both farmers and processors. (NAN)
– Oct 18, 2019 @ 14:19 GMT |