With the aim of stimulating rural development and stimulating economic growth and development, OCP Africa seeks to improve the production of fruits and vegetables to boost agricultural productivity.
Akin Akinwande, Head of Business Development and Digital Projects, OCP AFRICA, believes there was a need to improve partnerships and collaboration in the agriculture sector to maximize productivity and sustain growth.
To this end, OCP Africa is partnering with the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) to train producers and agribusinesses to deploy greenhouse technologies to enhance food security and drive economic growth.
To put Nigeria on the map for horticultural products, he reiterated that much needs to be done to improve the quality of cultivation as the demand for fresh produce increases.
With this in mind, a Horticulture Training of Trainers (ToT) masterclass was held in Abuja for greenhouse managers, field officers and lead farmers. It was organized by OCP Africa and SFSA.
Speaking at the training, Akinwande argued that consistency and quality of supply is becoming increasingly important, as the quality of greenhouses has to be impressive while farmers have to constantly grow.
He postulated that modern greenhouse vegetable production can provide an innovative solution to meet the growing demand for high-quality, safe and sustainable produced vegetables that are available year-round.
He said OCP Africa is working to transfer the skills and know-how of controlled environment agriculture that can provide optimum efficiency and higher nutrient density and increase national agricultural production.
He explained that his partnership with the SFSA was a collaboration to advance common goals of sustainable and safe food production.
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He explained that there were many areas where sector development and support for smallholders were needed, as the challenges faced by farmers arise in various activities along the value chains.
To this end, he postulated that OCP Africa has engaged in innovative business models, technologies and practices to address these challenges and increase income opportunities for small-scale agriculture.
Regarding the training, he explained that it aims to build the capacity of greenhouse center managers and community farmer networks to grow lucrative vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, spinach and pumpkins, thus enabling Nigerians to access the nutritious foods needed for a balanced and healthy diet.
He added that the training program provides farmers with the necessary skills to feel truly confident about investing in greenhouse cultivation techniques.
According to him, the company has acquired greenhouses for its centers located in thirteen (13) states, saying that it has done a lot to provide a diverse food basket to meet nutritional needs.
So far, Akinwande said 35 standard 8-meter by 24-meter greenhouses have been established in major tomato growing areas in Jigawa, Kano, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Oyo, Akwa Ibom and 7 other states, with more than 20,000 farmers with access to quality seedlings and inputs as well as training in good agricultural practices on modern production techniques and links with offtake markets and processors.
Through its Farm and Fortune Hubs (FFH), Akinwande said the company reaches out to a wide range of public and private partners to increase incomes for smallholders.
To address poverty, food and nutrition insecurity, he stressed the importance of working towards socio-economic outcomes at community and national level, pledging OCP readiness, to improve and develop sustainable food systems at across the country.
During the training, participants learned all the skills needed to become successful horticultural entrepreneurs.
Edna Akpan, one of the participants and Commercial Farm Manager of Akwa Ibom State University (AKSU), described the training as timely with the potential to improve the competitiveness of farmers and agribusinesses .
Instead of contributing to poverty alleviation, Akpan postulated that the training will bring sustainable benefits to the beneficiaries over the long term, helping farmers to increase their productivity and income.
Training in horticulture, she added, would help create much-needed jobs by improving access to knowledge and markets, building technical and managerial capacity in agriculture and agribusiness.
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