In Nigeria, horticultural research is spearheaded by the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT). As we all know, there are diverse strands of agriculture, horticulture being one of them.
Horticulture is the art and science of growing and handling flowers, herbs, fruits, nuts, vegetables, foliage plants, and woody ornamentals.
Established in 1975 with the aid of the United Nations Development Programme in conjunction with the Food and Agricultural Organization, its chief mandate was to serve as a fruit and vegetable research and demonstration centre.
In June 1976, NIHORT acquired the status of a national institute. The Institute has it headquarter in Ibadan (a rainforest agro-ecological zone of South Western Nigeria), on 350 hectares of land at Jericho Reservation Area, Idi-Ishin.
To give it a national outlook, the institute has two substations located in Bagauda, Kano state, and the other in Imo state in South-Eastern Nigeria.
Specifically, NIHORT conducts researches and come up with solutions to the improved production of certain crops including pineapple, citrus, mango, plantain, vegetable, as well as honey.
Functions of National Horticultural Research Institute
NIHORT is mandated to do the following:
- Conduct research into the genetic improvement, production, processing, storage, utilization and marketing of tropical fruits, vegetables, spices and ornamental plants of both nutritional and economic importance.
- Develop horticultural produce and products for local and export markets with attendant health, industrial raw materials and employment generation benefits.
- Foster Public-Private Partnership on the development of new initiatives in growing and processing horticultural crops and other areas of national interests.
- The production of horticultural crops using new technologies developed by NIHORT scientists is another responsibility of the body.
- Provide other agricultural services and consultancy services.
- Generate revenue from its many engagements and organize training and workshops to improve the practices of horticultural services.
Achievements of National Horticultural Research Institute
- Since its establishment in 1975, the National Horticultural Research Institute has made significant contribution to horticulture in Nigeria and beyond.
- The Institute has one of the largest collections of citrus germplasm in West Africa. They are maintained for immediate and future improvement and selection for different uses.
- Sweet orange varieties (Bende, Umudike, Agege 1, Lue-gim- gong,Valencia, and Pineapple) have been recommended for planting in Nigeria because of their adaptability, high yielding and good fruit qualities.
- Two improved varieties and suitable cultural practices for high yields of long cayenne pepper (NHV-A and NHV-F) developed.
- NIHORT has also spearheaded the mass production of seedlings and spices for local and international consumption.
- Sales of citrus and other fruits including Exotic fruits for consumption.
- Revenue Generation in line with Federal Government policy.
- In addition, the horticultural institute is involved in the development of indigenous fertilization systems on a commercial scale.
Research Programmes in National Horticultural Research Institute
The research programmes in the institute include:
- Citrus Improvement Programme
- Fruits Improvement Programme
- Vegetable Improvement Programme
- Spices Improvement Programme
- Floriculture Improvement Programme
- Product Development Programme
Consultancy Ventures in National Horticultural Research Institute
NIHORT offers a wide range of horticultural orchard services, from the growing to the processing and the export of specific orchard produce.
Each product is assigned a semi-dependent venture to be directly responsible for its rearing and processing. These include:
- Citrus Venture
- Pineapple Venture
- Mango Venture
- Indigenous Fruits Venture
- Exotic Fruits Venture
- Plantain & Pawpaw Venture
- Fresh Vegetable Venture
- Seed Production Venture
- Floriculture Venture
- Fruit Juice Production
- Honey Production Venture