Stakeholders at AgriQuest Africa forum proffer ways to boost fruit, vegetable production

Stakeholders in the food and beverage sector met recently in Lagos at a forum organized by AgriQuest Africa Network (AQAN) to seek ways to boost fruit and vegetable production amid post-harvest challenges.

According to the immediate past Dean, Post- Graduate School, Bell University of Technology, Ota, Prof Olugbenga Ogunmoyela, fruits and vegetables are not only rich in nutrients, they are veritable sources of income for farmers.

However, he noted that the sector has faced a myriad of challenges, including know-how in modern production techniques, and fragmentation of production.

He said that many producers lack the finance to upgrade their operations and struggle to supply retailers with a reliable high-quality produce.

Prof Ogunmoyela said the solution lies in more investment and compliance with market requirements.

He added that dealing with issues in the entire value chain could enable farmers to harness the potential in the sub-sector.

He urged for efforts to transform the industry, with particular emphasis to engage the youths.

The Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Olayiwole Onasanya, said the government has introduced farmers to techniques that have not only increased the quality and value of the products, but also reduced post-harvest losses.

He said it was part of the government’s vision to improve and modernise the country’s agro-based value chain, including basic production, processing, and marketing.

He mentioned Epe and other parts of Lagos state as examples where many farmers, including youths, grow vegetables and fruits using greenhouses. By using the greenhouse technology, he said, they learnt to grow higher-quality crops, reduce losses and lengthen the season.

Onasanya added that the goal of the government was to help youths and farmers to develop the agro business to produce for the regional markets in Africa, as well as for the international market.

He said there were feelers that the government’s increased investments in agriculture were paying off.

The perm sec also said there were opportunities for investors in the sub-sector.

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