Improved production and exportation of plantains and bananas can boost Nigeria’s GDP, according to Semeton Amosu, a Fruit Research Scientist at the National Horticultural Research Institute, NIHORT, Ibadan.
Mr. Amosu, who made the announcement in an interview with newsmen on Tuesday in Ibadan, explained that the increase in production could lead to a reduction in plantain and banana imports.
According to him, the development of plantain and banana value chains could result in more job opportunities and overall improved livelihoods for stakeholders.
Mr. Amosu emphasized the importance of raising awareness about the potential of these crops, describing them as capable of improving farmers’ livelihoods and income generation.
He advocated for farmers and other stakeholders to be trained in improved crop production technologies.
The fruits scientist also advocated for the establishment of strong market links to assist small and medium-sized farmers involved in the production of bananas and plantains.
The scientist advised farmers to increase crop production in all growing regions and to learn about Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) for both commodities from the institute.
“A controlled market system is required so that farmers can have readymade markets with a strong distribution network for their produce.
“Farmers should also prioritize processing and value addition to keep post-harvest losses to a bare minimum,” he said.
He went on to say that crop production could be divided into two categories: suckers (planting materials) and plantain/banana fruits.
According to the scientist, the fruits are produced through orchard establishment using different plant densities in accordance with global GAP for plantain and banana.
Mr. Amosu stated that crop preservation could be best accomplished through processing and value addition.
“In addition, NIHORT has developed and distributed to farmers plantain and banana products such as SoyaMusa (a baby food made from soybeans and plantains), plantain/banana flour, plantain/banana starch, plantain/banana chips, and banana yoghurt.
“A new project has just been approved to investigate the potential use of plantain or banana peels for the production of paper, mats, and belts, among other things,” he explained.
Plantains, according to the fruit scientist, are a good source of minerals and Vitamin C, and including them in a varied diet may help support the immune system.
“Because heat and light can degrade vitamin C, when cooking plantains, do not allow the water to boil and cook them for a short period of time.
“They contain Vitamin B6, which is beneficial to the heart and mind. “Vitamin B6 has a wide range of functions in the body,” he explained.
Banana Flour Effective for Liver & Kidney Conditions
Mr. Amosu also told NAN that flours made from unripe bananas were highly effective in improving insulin sensitivity and reducing some medical conditions associated with the liver and kidney.
“Eating bananas on a regular basis helps to meet daily potassium requirements, which helps to keep blood pressure under control and prevents further complications such as strokes and kidney disease.
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“Banana peels’ anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties have made them popular in folk medicine for wound treatment.
“Banana is the world’s fourth most important food crop in terms of gross value of production, after rice, wheat, and maize,” Mr. Amosu concluded.