The Federal Government has trained castor farmers drawn from the 44 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Kano on new production techniques and good agricultural practice.
The training, which was organised by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), was held on Thursday in Kano.
Mr Ernest Umakhihe, Permanent Secretary, FMARD, said the training was part of efforts to attain food security and self-sufficiency as well as improve the livelihood of castor farmers.
According to him, government’s creation of awareness on castor farming was geared towards achieving set objectives.
He noted that castor was the most versatile plant, used in over 10 different industries for various products.
“The seed contains between 40 to 70 per cent oil, which is unique among vegetable oils because it is the only commercial source of a hydroxylated fatty acid.
“The demand for castor oil has kept on increasing in the international market assured by 700 users, ranging from medicine and cosmetics, to biodiesel, plastic and lubricants,” he explained.
According to him, the FMARD, through the value chain, has so far distributed over seven million kilogram of breeder foundation castor seeds as palliative to castor farmers in order to cushion the effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Umakhihe, who was represented by Mr Ukattah Bernard, Deputy Director, Tree Crops, noted that the capacity building, was coming at a crucial moment of the country’s recovery from a difficult spell of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that the current administration was determined to turn around the nation’s economy, including agriculture, through its unwavering support for farmers and empowerment of women and youths.
The permanent secretary enjoined participants to take advantage of the opportunity to address food insufficiency and insecurity in the country.
The Executive Director, Institute of Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Prof. Muhammad Faguci, said the training was aimed at building the capacity of castor farmers.
According to him, Nigeria imports castor oil to the tune of about N30 billion annually, noting that the capacity building was one of the efforts to bridge the gap.
He noted that through the training, the country would be self-sufficient in castor oil production and even export it for commercial purposes.
Earlier, the Coordinator of Prestigious Bridge Institute, Dr Aisha Yusuf, urged the participants to ensure that their castor seeds were of the quality and standard that would compete in the global market.
Yusuf added that the workshop would improve the farmers’ technical know-how in castor farming as well as improve their business.
The Chairman, Castor Farmers Association, Kano Chapter, Malam Muhammad Buhari, who spoke on behalf of the participants, commended the Federal Ministry of Agriculture for organising the training.
He promised that castor farmers in the state would make judicious use of the knowledge received from the training, as well retrain others.