The National Horticultural Reseach Institute, NIHORT, in Ibadan has inaugurated a platform on irvingia (Ogbono) to optimally utilise socio-economic benefits of irvingia value chain.
The inauguration ceremony was held for farmers and stakeholders from Orlu Zone in Orlu at the weekend.
The Executive Director of the Institute, Dr. Abayomi Olaniyan, said the platform was aimed at identifying bottlenecks and opportunities in irvingia production, marketing and policy environment.
Olaniyan, who was represented by Dr. Olutola Oyedele, the Director of Research in NIHORT, said the inauguration would also facilitate dialogue between the local players in the value chain which included farmers, processors and input suppliers.
Other players, he said, were financial institutions, transporters, wholesalers, retailers, researchers and the development sectors.
Olaniyan said that at the inception of the irvingia project, the institute through its team of competent research scientists, interacted with relevant stakeholders in the irvingia value chain through surveys which revealed the strength, weakness and threats of the value chain in the state.
“As a follow up to the surveys, processing of irvingia was identified as an important area of intervention in which the National Horticultural Research Institute built the capacity of stakeholders and empowered them with some locally fabricated irvingia decorticator.
“Irvingia (ogbno), as a crop of national importance, has high health and economic potential. It is rich in vitamin C and other important nutrients and a good source of carbohydrates as well as protein,” he said.
Olaniyan said the institute, as part of keying into the Economic Recovery Growth Plan of the Federal Government, had 10 institutional projects covering different commodity crops to address various challenges of national concern.
He said one of such was Project 7, which bothered on selected horticultural innovation platforms for learning and exchange of ideas among stakeholders.
He called on the stakeholders, especially the farmers, to take full advantage of the opportunity and synergise within the platform to achieve the socio-economic dividends of irvingia value chain.
Dr. Ifeoluwapo Amao, the Project 7 Coordinator (Innovation Platform for Selected Horticultural Crops), said that irvingia was one of the institute’s mandate crops and an important crop in the South East identified as a potential foreign exchange earner and thus a means of enhancing farmers’ livelihood.
She said the institute visited the state last year to build the capacity of stakeholders on processing centred on the use of the locally fabricated manually operated irvingia decorticator that reduced the drudgery associated with processing the fruits.
She said that during the capacity building programme, each of the zones visited was empowered with one locally fabricated irvingia decorticator and some seedlings of irvingia.
Amao said that the inauguration of the innovation platform was a follow up to the capacity building and empowerment programme held earlier in the zone.
“Innovation platform has been recognised as a way of improving agricultural/horticultural development.
“Agricultural innovation fosters development, leads to reduction in poverty, diversification of economy, empowerment generation, increased income and wealth creation, improved international competiveness and food security,” she said.
Mr. Celestine Anaele, the Zonal Manager, Imo State Agricultural Development Programme (ADP), called on residents in the area to embrace the crop with all seriousness it deserved.
He described “ogbono” crop as very relevant to the Imo people as it is medicinal, a food thickner and a money yielding crop which does not require much labour to harvest.
Some of the participants commended the Federal Government and NIHORT for the inauguration and for the provision of the crop, which they said, had numerous advantages.
They said the programme would lead to increased food production and income generation for people of the community and the state.
Mr. Emmanuel Odoemena, a participant from Njaba Local Government area of Imo. listed some of the advantages of irvingia to include aiding fertility, strengthening of the bones and arteries as well as checking cholesterol level in the body.
Janet Okonkwo, another participant from Oru West Local Government area, expressed gratitude to NIHORT for the programme and advised the various groups that constituted the platform to synergise to achieve results.
NAN reports that the formal inauguration of the platform, which consists of the processors, marketers, transporters and suppliers of the crop, was done by the representative of the NIHORT Executive Director, Dr. Oyedele.