NEPC, Catholic church partner to boost banana, plantain production, preparation for export

* Farmers should not stop at mere produce, but consider value addition to earn more revenue – Abe

By John Odunjo

The Nigerian Export Promotion Council has said that its partnership with the Catholic Diocese of Ekiti was targeted at promoting organic farming in the state and as well positioning the products for export market.

The State Coordinator, NEPC Ekiti Coordinating Office, Mrs Iyabode Abe, urged farmers to embrace organic agriculture with a view to producing crops that are healthy for human consumption and as well meet the stipulated requirements for international market.

The state coordinator also encouraged the farmers not to stop at mere produce, but consider value addition, which she said would bring about more revenue for them especially at the international market.

Abe spoke in Ado Ekiti during a ‘one-day capacity building on development of organic farming practice for banana/plantain production for export in Ekiti State’ organized by NEPC in collaboration with the Justice, Development and Peace Initiative of Ekiti Catholic Diocese.

She said that banana/plantain being the alternative to cassava under NEPC’s ‘One State One Product’ programme in Ekiti State, had the potentials to boost economies of the farmers, the state and country, hence the need for the farmers to adhere to international best practices in the cultivation.

The NEPC coordinator said, “This collaboration is to increase banana/plantain production in Ekiti State that we can now begin from there to encourage the farmers on value addition which will enhance their performance at the international market”.

The Vicar-General of Ekiti Catholic Diocese, Rev Fr Felix Odesanmi, said that the collaboration was towards “ensuring that our people are properly educated and informed about the benefits of organic agriculture which is a serious effort towards ensuring that the promotion of life and health among our people.

“We are using this opportunity to enlist the interest of the farmers and our people generally and we are very committed to ensuring that this partnership results into better appreciation of organic farming and organic agriculture in Ekiti and environs,” the cleric said.

The vicar-general, who said the church had always been in the vanguard of promoting organic agriculture, lamented that the chemicals and others being used for crop production had adverse effect on lives and human existence.

The Permanent Secretary, Ekiti State Ministry of Agriculture, Olugbenga Odesanmi, lauded the partnership between the church and NEPC to boost organic farming and boost banana/plantain plantation.

The PS said that the state government was partnering with NEPC “to support farmers in Ekiti State with plantain and banana suckers that they can go and plant on their farms. We look forward until we will get to a stage when we start exporting plantains and banana in Ekiti State”.

NEPC on the occasion presented improved varieties of plantain and banana suckers to the farmers for planning in their farms.

The Apex Chairman of Organic Farmers’ Association, Ekiti State, Chief Adeolu Ogunrinu, hailed NEPC for the partnership with Catholic Diocese of Ekiti, to encourage organic farming.

Ogunrinu said, “We are happy today to see NEPC coming to us with this capacity building programme and as well giving us improved variety of banana and plantain where farmers can benefit from.

“The training we are receiving today is different, we organic farmers have been practicing it, with the trainng of today, we have learned more. We are happy for the gesture of the NEPC,” he said.

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