State and local governments with appropriate land and water resources have been urged to embrace coconut cultivation and value chain development as part of development and business activities to diversify the economy, create additional sustainable jobs and increase forestation for better quality of life.
The calls came as the World Coconut Day was celebrated yesterday to promote economic and poverty alleviation potential of the tree crop, as well as environmental benefits.
A coconut plantation and value chain investment advocate, Mr John-Bede Anthonio, disclosed that cultivating coconut plantations is a money-spinning business suitable for youths, women, retirement plans and if done in a large scale, could employ millions of Nigerians through export potentialities.
“We have no sizeable coconut plantations in Nigeria. So, the first step is to develop 10,000 hectares of coconut plantations in 20 states. Each hectare needs 10 people, which translates to 100,000 people per state and total of 2 million workers” in 20 states, at least, he said.
On the value addition development, Mr Anthonio said 365 products could be made from coconuts, among which are oil and water, which demands are rising.
He argued that youths should be trained monthly to produce coconut derivatives and for every person trained, three other persons are expected to be employed by such a trainee. “100 people trained monthly in each month in 20 states is 24,000 people trained annually. Three people employed for every training is 72,000 yearly.”
Executive Director, Nigeria Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR), Benin City, Dr Celestine Ikuenobe, also affirmed that on the average, about 80 nuts of coconut are produced by a mature tree yearly, and at a price of N200 per nut, a farmer with one hectare of coconut trees (over 200 trees per hectare) is a millionaire by all standards.
He encouraged youths, women, and graduates to explore coconut farming and value chain for the embedded wealth and job opportunities that could go a long way in reducing poverty level and food insecurity.