By Felicia Imohimi
A group, Abundance of Hope Initiative (AHI) has trained 32 women on climate smart cultivation of pumpkin leaf locally known as “Ugu leaf,” in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The training programme is being implemented in collaboration with Ugu Farmers Association (UFA).
AHI’s Executive Director, Mr Taiye Sasona, said this during the training session on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said the programme was designed to expose the participants to modern farming and enterprising skills to enable them to set up their businesses.
He said the organisation focused on agriculture and climate change to empower small holder farmers with business and market opportunities for sustainability.
Sasona said that pumpkin leaf was selected for the programme in view of its health and economic importance.
“Pumpkin leaf from research happens to be the vegetable with the highest health benefit after Moringa.
“The demand for this vegetable keeps increasing while the supply remains low.
“We decided to train widows on climate smart farming knowing that this will help produce pumpkin leaf free from chemicals and good for export.
“This is equally to protect the environment knowing fully well that there will be no depletion of soil with chemicals,’’ Sasona said.
According to him, the organisation is conducting sensitisation and advocacy around this, adding that, “we also empower women and young people through this initiative.
“Sustainable development goal one and two is our priority hence we do a lot of empowerment programmes to end poverty and hunger.”
Mr Terhemen Aondoakaa, President, UFA, said the association had trained many people to enable them to become business owners and self-reliant through pumpking leaf cultivation.
Aondoakaa, however, said that in spite of these efforts there were still huge gap to meet the growing demand for the perishable produce.
“We encouraged widows to take the training and by implication the business seriously as it has the capacity of lifting people from poverty.
“This is because pumpkin leaf is not just a food but also serves as natural medicine for treating diseases,” he said.
One of the participants, Ms Theresa Nkwocha, who lost her husband 10 years ago, said she has been moving up and down seeking help and engaging in menial jobs to cater for her family.
She commended the gesture, adding that she learnt a lot from the exercise which would help to improve her productivity.
“I will increase the 20 seedlings given to me by using the organic supplement the way I was thought.
“I am confident that my family will eat healthy vegetables from my backyard and with it l can now comfortably pay school fees for my children,’’ she said.
Another participant Mrs Mercy Bala, who corroborated earlier opinion, said that such support was imperative to enable them to set up their businesses.
Bala urged government and well-meaning Nigerians to assist widows and vulnerable persons to learn trades to enable them to engage in productive activities.
On his part, Kabiru Bello, representative of the Agriculture Department, FCT Secretariat, urged the beneficiaries to ensure effective utilisation of the starter packs given to them and engage in gainful activities.
He also urged them to form cooperative societies to enable them to access agricultural financing facilities initiated by the government. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)