The Federal Government will continue to encourage kenaf production in view of its importance in the production of jute bags for the commodity export business, the Director-General of Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), Dr. Hussain Doko Ibrahim, has said.
Dr. Doko said this in Abuja while distributing improved kenaf seeds for the 2018 farming season to kenaf farmers across the country under the auspices of Kenaf Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (KEPPMAN).
Daily Trust reports that kenaf (hibiscus cannibinus) is an annual herbaceous crop that is rated as the third largest fibre crop of economic importance after cotton and jute and can be used, in addition to jut bags, for pulp and paper, wood, plastic bio-composite materials, industrial oil/chemical adsorbents, animal feeds, among others.
The RMRDC boss, represented by the council’s head of Agriculture and Agro-Allied Department, Dr. G. G. Awolehin, said the recent rejection of Nigerian export commodities due to polypropylene contamination at international market was worriesome.
He said the current annual jute sacks requirement in the country has been estimated at about 10 million pieces, all imported, costing the country about N5.50bn (in foreign exchange) annually, adding that the situation was becoming very pathetic as a number of commodity exporters have resorted to importing second hand jute sacks from Ghana.
“This contributed to the further rejection of many agro exports from Nigeria by the importing countries,’’ he said.
Dr. Doko said the seed distribution was in line with the council’s long-term programme titled ‘Boosting the Supply of Agricultural Raw Materials for Industrial Use’ aimed at increasing the production of agro raw materials with the use of improved seeds and seedlings to bridge the gap between raw materials demand and supply in the nation’s industrial sector.
He said over 4.0 tonnes of improved kenaf seeds were realized from similar improved seeds given to farmers in Ogun, Kebbi, Plateau and Adamawa states last year, adding that it would be redistributed among kenaf farmers in other states.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, represented by the ministry’s Director of Plantation Establishment, Mr Quadri Olalekan, while appreciating the council for the work on kenaf, said the promotion of kenaf production in Nigeria was in line with the government’s agenda of expanding the production of agricultural commodities and assured of adequate funding.
Mr Towolabi Owolabi, Director, National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC), said the availability and accessibility of quality seeds was one of the major obstacles that Nigerian farmers faced and called on KEPPMAN to help in training farmers on seed handling techniques and sustaining the quality of kenaf seeds in the country.
Responding, the National Secretary, Kenaf Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (KEPPMAN), Mr. Kunle Amosun, commended the council for the effort and assured that the seeds would be effectively used to promote the production of kenaf seeds and fiber for industrial use in the country.