By: KENNETH ORUSI, Asaba
Delta Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Austin Chikezie, has said that the state government would partner National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), Ibadan, Oyo State on pineapple Juice Processing in the state.
Chikezie, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Sir Augustine Oghoro, stated this on Monday when the NIHORT team led by Dr Olutola Oyedele, Director, Research and Coordinator of Project 7 on courtesy visit in Asaba.
The commissioner lauded NIHORT for organizing three day training for farmers in the state on pineapple Juice processing aimed at minimizing post-harvest loses and empowering farmers with some processing equipment.
He recalled that NIHORT had visited that state on a survey on pineapple farms and had come out with their findings and had advanced forward training on how to process and check post-harvest loses.
“The state government will support you and take up from wherever you stop in line with the government agenda to ensure that our farmer create wealth for themselves and grow the state income generation.
“This programme is laudable and good for our state, you have earlier done your survey and now you are back to help us jump start the processing of pineapple juice to help the farmers solve the challenge of post-harvest loses,” Chikezie said.
On his part, Dr Abayomi Olaniyan, Executive Director, NIHORT, represented by Oyedele, said that the institute capacity training would cover farmers in all the three senatorial districts of the state.
He said that Delta has a comparative advantage in pineapple production given the lined up of crops such as tomatoes, oranges, banana among others under the NIHORT project 7.
He said that with the capacity building farmers in the state could process, preserve and sell in both local and foreign marketers to earn income.
“During the survey, we observed that the farmer post-harvest loses was huge and because pineapple is a perishable crop, farmer make low profits at the end of the very harvest.
“But with this capacity building farmers can process and store the pineapple juice for six months and sell them when the product becomes scarce locally or export the juice thereby making good income.
“The juice is pure fruits, no concentrate, unlike some other juice, so it’s healthy for family use as there is no risk of contamination or cancer causing,” Olaniyan said.
Mr Ben Agama, Project Manager, Delta Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (DARDA), Ibusa, thanked NIHORT for coming back to help farmers overcome the challenge of post-harvest loses.
He said that the institute had visited the largest pineapple farm in the state which has over five million pineapple stand at Issele-Uku, in Aniocha North Local Government Area during the survey.
“We are sure that the training will help the farmers manage post-harvest loses and enhance their income,” Agama said.
In an interview with some of the trainee at the training centre, Ibusa, reports that the farmers blamed poor roads network, animal and glut and poor pricing and storage facility as some of the challenges facing pineapple farmers.
Mr Kayode Olasupo, Manager, Ifeanyi Pineapple Farms, Issele-Uku, a 250 hectares farm with 150 workers, said the major challenge has been poor pricing by buyers, lack of processing facilities and the attack by rodent.
“We face post-harvest loses due to poor pricing occasioned by glut in the seasonal production of pineapple, so, a lot of waste is recorded and as such we sell them at lower rate to reduce loses,” he said.
Another farmer, Mr Philip Okorodudu, Leader, Oregaha Farms, Uvwie LGA, said they have a cooperative farm occupying a large portion planted with pineapple for commercial purpose.
“But our challenge is access road, particularly during the rainy season, because the peak of pineapple harvest is between end of September and February, so, we find it difficult to move the crop to the market.
“The result is that we record great post-harvest loses but we plead with government to help us with processing machine o enable us process, preserve and sell particularly during the scarcity period”, Okorodudu said.
And also reports that over 50 farmers were trained on how to process pineapple into juice at the workshop.