Though fruit and vegetable production has risen in the country, there are still many untapped areas.
There are reasons for this. Post-harvest losses have kept many farmers producing more for local and international markets.
But how to increase fruit and vegetable production topped discussions at the AgriQuest Africa Network (AQAN) in Lagos.
The immediate past Dean, Post- Graduate School, Bell University of Technology, Ota, Prof Olugbenga Ogunmoyela, said fruits and vegetables are not only rich in nutrients, they are veritable sources of income for farmers.
He noted, however, that the sector is beset with many challenges. He listed these as lack of know-how in modern production techniques, and fragmentation of production.
According to him, 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 called for efforts to transform the industry, especially among the youth, to ensure they delivered.
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 cited Epe and other parts of the state 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.
He said 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 was paying off.
Onasanya also said there were opportunities for investors in the sub-sector.