BENIN – Dr Dapo Olakulehin, General Manager, Lagos Coconut Development Authority (LASCODA), on Tuesday called on the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) to develop a national policy on coconut value chain to make the crop the mainstay of the nation’s economy.
Olakulehin made the call during a one-day stakeholders meeting on coconut value chain organised by FMARD in collaboration with the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) in Benin.
In his paper presented titled’ The coconut tree: Economic benefit in Nigeria, Olakulehin said coconut was a major non-oil export foreign exchange earner for the country providing livelihoods for most families in Nigeria
He noted that only proactive interventions such as the development of a national policy and a regulatory agency could reposition the sector for employment generation along the value chain.
He noted that Lagos had dedicated about 1000 hectares of land for commercial coconut plantation to be blocked into 100 plots.
He disclosed that Lagos accounted for about 70 percent of the country’s coconut production adding that, Lagos was committed to the production of over 200 million seedlings in the next five years.
The National President of the National Coconut Producers Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NACOPPMAN), Mma Okoroji also appealed to the ministry to come up with a robust policy to develop the coconut value chain.
Okoroji said Nigeria was lagging behind other countries in coconut production hence the need to re-evaluate production among stakeholders to identify the current constraints responsible for the decline in the sector.
Okoroji noted that NACOPPMAN was committed to planting about 10,000 coconut trees in each of the coconut viable states annually.
“Nigeria can make over N300 trillion without value addition. So if you now add value addition to it, Nigeria will earn more,” she said.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Dr Ernest Umakhihe said Nigeria was expected to generate about $250 million from coconut and its derivatives by the year 2022.
Represented by the Deputy Director of FMARD, Chukwuemeka Ukattah, Umakhihe said the export of coconut and its derivatives generated about $150,000 million in 2020 representing about 10 percent of the country’s agricultural export.
“Nigeria is ranked 19th in the worth among the coconut producers. It is a prominent crop cultivated in 22 out of the 36 states of the federation.
” Nigeria’s coconut national production is about 229,578 metric tons. The area under cultivation is estimated at 30,420 hectares.
“The national demand is estimated to be 1,000,000 metric tons per annum leaving a deficit of 716,000 metric tons.
“Hence the need for stakeholders to cash in on this deficit and see it as an opportunity to increase production through replanting of aged plantation and value addition,” he said.
According to him, the essence of the meeting is for stakeholders to discuss critical issues affecting the the coconut value chain and come up with strategies that will help address the challenges.
Dr Celestine Ikuenobe, the Executive Director of NIFOR who welcomed participants to the meeting, said Nigeria’s production was far below the demand.
Ikuenobe in his paper presentation titled’ overview of production and challenges of coconut in Nigeria, said the Nigeria was a net importer of coconut and its Products
He explained that NIFOR was strengthening it’s capacity to meet the sudden upsurge in the demand for coconut seedlings.
“We are working to invigorate our coconut gardens in addition with other identified seed trees.
According to Ikuenobe, we are confident that the coconut sector will sooner that expected be repositioned to be a very significant sector of the economy providing employment and income.
Also present at the meeting were the Representatives of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Bank of Agriculture (BOA) and Edo Investment Promotion Office among others. End
Source: Daily Independent