The Government of Netherlands has disclosed plans to mobilise six million Euros worth of private investment into Nigeria’s vegetable value chain to increase access to finance for farmers, traders, processors and SMEs.

The Ambassador of the Netherlands to Nigeria, Harry Van Dijk, who disclosed this, yesterday, during the launch of the Horti Nigeria Project in Abuja, said the focus of the project is to boost vegetable production for the domestic market and make it more sustainable.

According to him, the Horti Nigeria project has four components and they include mobilising investment into the horticulture sub-sector, increasing production of 60,000 smallholder farmers in Kano and Kaduna.

Other components include, increasing greenhouse technologies in Ogun and Oyo state and off-taking the market to Lagos state and enhancing sector coordination and business-to-business linkages, so as to contribute to improvements in federal and state horticultural policies.

The Ambassador, however, lamented a deficit of 13 million metric tonnes of tomatoes despite the nation’s huge potential in Nigeria.

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The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar while unveiling the programme, expressed concerns that Nigeria is not one of the leading tomato exporting countries, despite being rated as one of the leading producers in Africa, attributing it to low yield resulting from seed type use.

He pointed out that Nigeria’s various ecologies, soil and climatic conditions are suitable for production of horticultural crops, adding that the climate conditions confer an immense competitive advantage and potential to have a leading role in tomato production and trade.

While explaining that HortiNigeria is yet another opportunity to promote activities of the horticultural sub-sector, he said the government is looking forward to catalysing increased productivity and exposure of 60,000 smallholder farmers in the four states. He added that the project would facilitate 200 business-to-business linkages and 100 business partnerships.