Agriculture

NEPC trains farmers on modern techniques of production, processing of fonio grains

Supreme Desk
15 Sep 2022 2:41 PM GMT
NEPC trains farmers on modern techniques of production, processing of fonio grains
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Ahmed, however, said poor quality production, processing and packaging were a few challenges confronting the export of fonio grain to the international market.

The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) on Thursday trained farmers and other stakeholders on modern techniques in the production, processing, packaging and export of fonio rice (Acha) through value-chain approach.

The Trade Promotion Advisor, Kaduna state Export Assistance Office, Ahaji kasim Ahmed, said they were poised in promoting and diversifying the export of non-oil products in Nigeria.

Describing Kaduna state as a major producer of fonio rice in Nigeria, he said NEPC was at the forefront of its promotion.

Ahmed, however, said poor quality production, processing and packaging were a few challenges confronting the export of fonio grain to the international market.

"This has affected the export volume, value and good bargain in the international market by increasing the rejection of these products.

"As a Council and a lead Federal Government agency in formulating export policies, we find the situation worrisome, "he said.

Ahmed said the training was informed to keep farmers and other stakeholders abreast of the prerequisite knowledge on how to produce high premium fonio grain, processing and packaging for export.

He urged the participants to make the best use of the training opportunity to equip themselves and be ready to increase non-oil export volume and value in Nigeria.

He also urged them to utilise the training in gaining knowledge on the activities of NEPC, export trade and exportation of quality fonio from the country.

Presenting a paper, Prof. Lucius Bamaiyi, Department of Crop Production, Institute for Agricultural Research, ABU Zaria, said fonio could be broadcast or sown in rows by hand or planter.

The title of the paper was "Modern techniques in the production, processing, packaging and export of fonio rice through value-chain approach in Kaduna State".

He said sowing fonio in rows limits seed wastage and makes it easier to weed and more spaced plants on the field.

Bamaiyi added that to protect the fonio from wind, taller crops such as maize should be planted around the fonio farm which should be weeded timely.

He mentioned some of the challenges of fonio farming to include labour intensity and high cost of dehusking machines, among other constraints which led farmers to abandon their fonio farm in many parts of Africa.

Bamaiyi said for the crop to gain access into the European market, it must be well packaged, free from infestation, odour and sand free and suitable for human consumption.

He called on the government to invest more in the crop, noting that it has high nutritional and health value as well as viable for economic growth and monetary exchange.

Earlier, Mr Isaac Kure, President, National Fonio Association of Nigeria, said the training would make farmers of the crop to return to production and get value for their monetary and international value.

He noted the health benefits of fonio, especially for diabetic patients, adding that, if it was well known to the locals, it would energise them to venture into its production.

He lamented that in Kaduna and Plateau states, the production of fonio had reduced drastically while the training would enlighten them more to inform farmers on the gains entailed in the crop.

"In 2020, we first attempted to export fonio to international market, but this is sad because we stopped thereafter. We ought to have perfected exporting the crop.

"What was unfortunate is that even the first attempt of exporting the crop did not yield any result.

"But with this training, we will enlighten more farmers on its benefits to us as individual and the nation's economy at large," Kure said.

Some of the participants pledged to utilise the training in improving their yield but, however, lamented that the government had little concern for the fonio rice farmers.

They called on the government to minimise the cost for export and provide them with incentives to encourage them do more in the fonio value chain for the benefit of the nation in general.

Supreme reports that the participants were also lectured on export procedures and documentation.

They were also issued certificates for attending the training.

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