The National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), on Tuesday in Benin, Edo State inaugurated plantain and banana innovation platform in a bid to improve productivity in the value chain.
The Executive Director of the institute, Dr Abayomi Olaniyan, said the platform was designed for farmers to learn new innovations in the production of plantain and banana in Edo.
Olaniyan, represented by Dr Ifeoluwapo Amao, the Project Coordinator, said that Edo was one of the highest producers of plantain and banana in the country hence the establishment of the platform.
Innovation platforms are spaces for learning and changes which is participatory in nature.
“The institute, as part of keying into the Economic Recovery Growth Plan of the Federal Government, has 10 institutional projects covering different commodity crops to address various challenges of national concern.
“One of such is Project 7 which bothers on selected horticultural innovation platforms.
“Plantain and banana as crops of national importance have huge health and economic potentials,” he said.
According to him, plantation/banana is the third most important staple and a raw material for industries.
“It is used for the production of various value-added products such as baby food, bread, biscuits, and so on.
“Its peels are used as feed for livestock. Dried peels and stalk are used for soap production.
“Dried leaves, sheath and petiole are used as roofing and tying materials while the leaves are used as food packaging materials,” he said.
Also, the Assistant Project Coordinator, Dr Oluyemisi Adewale, said that plantain and banana were of paramount importance in southern parts of the country.
“It has been identified as a potential for foreign exchange earner,” Adewale added.
According to him, the innovation platform has been recognised as a way of improving agricultural and horticultural development among farmers, processors and input suppliers, among others.
In his remarks, Mr Friday Oduware, a farmer, thanked the institute for the inauguration of the platform, and added that it would create more opportunities for farmers in the state.