HortiNigeria trains 62,000 smallholder farmers, entrepreneurs in Nigeria

HortiNigeria, a horticulture programme funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, says it has trained no fewer than 62,000 smallholder and entrepreneurial farmers on best agricultural practices.

HortiNigeria Programme Director, Mr Mohammed Salasi-Idris, disclosed this in Abeokuta on Thursday during a two-day event aimed at sharing success stories and challenges of farmers, including the way forward.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the programme is themed: ‘The Journey So Far in Transforming the Horticulture Sector’.

Salasi-Idris, represented by Abdullahi Umar, said HortiNigeria trained 60,000 smallholder farmers in the North and 2,000 entrepreneurial farmers in the South-West of Nigeria.

According to the programme director, the 60,000 smallholder farmers are made up of 40 per cent women and 50 per cent youth.

He said HortiNigeria piloted innovative technologies among the 2,000 entrepreneurial farmers.

According to him, the HortiNigeria initiative has led efforts to develop a
sustainable and inclusive horticulture sector to enhance food and nutrition, including food security in Nigeria.

He said the programme, implemented in four states – Kaduna, Kano, Ogun, and Oyo – focused on essential crops like onion, pepper, okra, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, watermelon, and sweetcorn.

He explained that since the inception of the programme, it had effectively utilised digital platforms and social media to extend its reach, engaging over 70,000 farmers with vital agricultural knowledge and updates.

‘The programme is aimed at enhancing food and nutrition security in line with both Dutch and Nigerian objectives.

‘Since November 2021, HortiNigeria has launched several initiatives across Kaduna, Kano, Ogun, and Oyo States, spanning ten value chains within the horticulture sector: cabbage, cucumber, okra, onions, pepper, sweetcorn, tomato, and watermelon.

‘Notably in Ogun and Oyo states, we have forged partnerships to pilot innovative production systems that bolster entrepreneurial f
armers and promote regional crop diversification.

‘Additionally, we are actively engaging with financial institutions and enhancing sector coordination and business linkages through collaborations with public and private entities.

‘As HortiNigeria moves into its last year of implementation in 2025, the programme is set to expand its reach and continue its vital work in enhancing the capabilities of smallholder farmers, agro-entrepreneurs, and financial institutions.

‘Future efforts will focus on scaling successful innovations, increasing access to finance, and continuing to build robust systems for sustainable agricultural development,’ he said.

The programme director said the progress recorded in the past years showed the commitment of the consortium partners and the resilience of various commodity value chain players.

He, however, urged stakeholders, including government officials, potential donors, and the media to support by publishing the initiative’s efforts to ensure a sustainable future for Niger
ia’s agricultural sector.

Meanwhile, Mr Elijah Mwashayenyi, the African Director, East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer (EWS-KT), noted that HortiNigeria had helped farmers and agro-input suppliers to imbibe the knowledge of accessing good quality seeds.

Mwashayenyi said the programme had also promoted marketing connectivity by linking farmers with the market, thus assisting them to sell their produce as well as helping them in production planning.

A beneficiary from Ogun, Mrs Adetola Taiwo, appreciated HortiNigeria for its kind gesture and support to women and youth farmers.

She added that they had been exposed to best agro practices, thereby increasing their innovation and productivity.

Another beneficiary from Oyo State, Mrs Omolola Balogun, said HortiNigeria had assisted farmers in building capacity and supported them with input technology, making it easier for farmers to farm all year round.

NAN reports that the four-year programme, funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Nigeria and
implemented by consortiums, began in 2021.

The consortiums include the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), EWS-KT, Wageningen University and Research (WUR) and KIT Institute (KIT), which has shared significant advancements in the Nigerian horticulture sector over the years.

NAN reports the programme included a stakeholders’ tour to Soiless Farm Lab at Awowo and FUNAAB Farm Hubs in Abeokuta, to expose them to some of HortiNigeria’s success stories.

In addition, HortiNigeria donated Eco Efficient Solution to FUNAAB Hub and Waste to Wealth Bin at Soiless Farm Lab.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria