By George Okoh in Makurdi
In its sustained efforts to ensure the availabilityÂ of quality grade tomato fruits for processing by industries in the country, the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) is embarking on the distribution of improved tomato varieties to vegetable farmers inÂ Nigeria.
The objective of the exercise is to facilitate farmersâ€™ access to improved seeds so as to boost national output from the current estimate of about 1.8 million metric tonnes/annum.Â
In a statement to THISDAY yesterday afterÂ improvedÂ tomato seeds were distributedÂ to vegetable farmers in ChanchagaÂ Farm Minna in Niger State, the Director-General/Chief Executive of RMRDC, Dr Huassaini Ibrahim Doko, said the new variety of tomato seeds would replace the local varieties that are not high yielding.
He said the local varieties can be systematically replacedÂ and therefore, guaranteeÂ access toÂ sustainable raw material supplyÂ by existing and emerging tomato processing plants.
He said vegetableÂ farmers in Niger State were selected to benefit from this project by RMRDC, because of the suitability of the stateâ€™s ecology for the production of tomatoes, all year round.
â€œTomato is one of the most widely grown vegetables around the world. It has been in cultivation for a very long time and an important component of the daily diet, consumed both fresh and in paste form. It is a rich source of vitamins A and C,â€ said Doko.
He also disclosed that Nigeria is ranked the largest producer of tomato in sub-Saharan Africa and the 13th in Africa.
In his speech, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon Kabir Abbas Musa, called on beneficiary farmers to take advantage of the improved seeds by increasing their farms for a larger yield.
He called on the research institute to continue with their effort in making Nigeria a food sufficient country.
A symbolic presentation of seeds to farmers was made by Doko Musa, who received the seedsÂ on behalf of the vegetableÂ farmers in the state.Â