Stakeholders including agriculture experts, economists, academia, political appointees, financial experts, farmers and other relevant organisations, last week Tuesday met in Ibadan to discuss way of improving production of Kenaf and improve revenue generation among farmers.
The meeting, organised by the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T) Ibadan, was aimed at identifying the potential of Kenaf in order to harness such potential for national economic growth and sustainable development of small medium and large scale enterprises in the country.
The Director of IAR&T, Professor James Adediran, said the workshop was organised to improve the revenue base of farmers considering the fact that Nigeria is a large producer of both food and cash crops which need to be packaged.
Adediran said the workshop was timely “considering the economic challenges which our country faces in recent times. The situation in which we are now requires exploring other avenues to expand the nation’s foreign exchange earning capacity from locally produced materials and reduce capital flight to other nations.”
He said part of the aim of the workshop was to sensitize the public on the importance of Kenaf and its uses, adding that “Despite the potential of Kenaf as raw material for industries, fiber products like jute bags are imported into the country for different uses. Synthetic bags are even preferable because of lower cost implication.
“However, huge amount of money is still used for their importation and other nations are enriched during the process while local industries are closing down daily.”
The director said there are potential in Kenaf production which include “production of produce bags, non-woven fibre bags, pulp and papers, plumbing yarn, rope/twine, absorbent of oil spill, car interior decoration, geo-mats for weed, erosion control and so many products of economic values, these end products are yet to be maximally explored for economic returns.
“The institute has been given national mandate on Kenaf genetic improvement by the Federal Government of Nigeria. The institute has developed high yielding varieties for both seed and fibre production. These varieties are aimed at meeting various demands from different sector of the economy in the Kenaf value chain and produce packaging. If the potentials at our disposal are well explored, there will be a turnaround in our national economic growth.
The Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Ibadan, Professor Bamidele Omitoyin maintained that government need to formulate policies that will encourage agriculture. He called for incentives to farmers and youths who are willing to go back to agriculture.
Also speaking at a day programme tagged ‘Stakeholders workshop on Kenaf Revolution and Development of Value Chain for Small, Medium and Large Enterprises in Nigeria’, the Technical Adviser to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on job creation, Dolapo Bright, said the goal of the current administration to create five million jobs by 2019 revolves in agriculture. He described Kenaf production as another veritable tool for creating jobs for thousands of unemployed people.
While describing Kenaf as another important crop which could generate billions of naira for farmers and the nation at large, Bright said potential abound in the production of Kenaf that could serve both domestic and industrial users.
Other speakers, which include Special Adviser on Agriculture to Governor Abdulfatai Ahmed of Kwara State, Anu Ibiwoye, Frederick Uyinmhin of First Bank, Lagos and Dr J Adetumbi of IAR&T, all said concerted efforts must be put in place to boost the production and make it more attractive.