A horticulturist, Dr Abayomi Olaniyan has revealed how mushroom production stands as a hidden source of wealth for the youths in the country. The opportunities available in the business are according to him enormous. He described mushroom production as a veritable cash crop that has the potentials to generate foreign exchange for the country.
Dr Abayomi Olaniyan who is the Acting Executive Director, National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT) stated this at the Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI), Ilorin while declaring open a three-day training workshop on mango and mushroom value chain. The NIHORT Executive Director who was represented by Dr. Stephen Afolayan said mushroom enjoys both domestic and international acceptance as a food item and that it is a veritable cash crop.
He further described mango and mushroom as important horticultural commodities, adding that horticulture has been variously suggested to be one of the most viable and sustainable sources of household income and that both mango and mushroom productions can generate employment; enhance gross domestic product and increase government revenue. ‘It is important to note that Nigeria has comparative advantage in the production of mangoes and mushrooms. Mango is among the important tropical fruits and it is greatly relished for its succulence, exotic flavor and delicious taste in most countries of the world. Nigeria ranks ninth in world mango production. Mango has a high level of vitamin C, pectin and fibre that help to lower serum cholesterol levels. Fresh mango is a rich source of potassium, which is an important component of cell and body fluids that control heart rate and blood pressure. Mushroom is particularly attractive to the prospective businessmen because it can be produced indoors in large quantity within a short period of time at great profitability. Mushroom is one of the important food items, it plays a significant role in human health, nutrition and diseases and a good source of protein, vitamins and mineral’, he said. Some among the mushrooms also according to him have medicinal benefits of certain polysaccharides, which are known to boost immune system. ‘Mushroom cultivation can help reduce vulnerability to poverty and strengthen livelihood through the generation of a fast yielding and nutritious source of food and a reliable source of income’, he stated. The training was in collaboration with the Hagues Logistics Limited and it recorded 60 participants, the Coordinator of the programme, Dr Lawrence O. Taiwo also revealed how the institute has devised means of converting plantain and pineapple wastes to wealth. ‘We are not only targeting mangoes and mushrooms, we need about 500 participants. We just finished training about 35 in Ibadan, Oyo State. We are going to Delta State to train about 400 people on plantains and pineapples production. We have developed a technology to use plantains waste for soap making. With that, we believe that a lot of people will be empowered in wealth and job creation. We want to train them to be job creators. So we are concentrating on waste to wealth in Delta State. In the next four weeks we will hit Ebonyi State to train some youths on scent-leaf and Ogbono’, he said.