Tea, coffee farmers cry out over neglect

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Farmers under the auspices of Coffee/Tea Association of Nigeria have cried out to the federal government to tackle the many challenges confronting the tea and coffee subsector in the country.

Speaking with Daily Trust in Nguroje, in Sarduana area of Taraba State recently, the Secretary-General of the association, Dr Usman Hassan, lamented that both the state and federal government have neglected the tea and coffee subsector in Nigeria.

He said due to poor prices, some farmers pluck their tea, pound it locally and dry it on the ground to sell.

“This is not conventional but because of the demand for tea in Nigeria, it is still marketable,” he said.

He further added that: When you go to places like Kenya, Sri Lanka, India and China, the money they generate from tea is greater than the Nigerian budget.

“If this subsector is encouraged, they can generate more money than Sri Lanka because tea can be grown in south-south, southeast, southwest, north-central, and some selected places in the northeast. Coffee and tea can perfectly grow in these regions- and the farmers are willing to go into production.

“Here in Sarduana LGA of Taraba, we have more than 1000 hectares of tea farms. We have a single person like Hon Babaginda Nguroje with 370 hectares; Sani Bagoshi has about 100 hectares, Salihu Lamu with 70 hectares, Zabuka Tea farms with over 70 hectares and so on.

‘’The demand for tea in Nigeria is too high-every society takes it. There are no religious and cultural barriers. But the processing facility is the problem.’’

The association said that while the Nigerian tea and coffee growers look for the market, processors and packers in the country source raw materials abroad.

“Top Tea alone imports 150 to 200 tonnes monthly as its raw materials to package for its market. That is about N200 million monthly going to other countries. Then we have Lever Brothers, they cannot even come here because what we produce here cannot service them. If we gather all the tea produced here at Mambilla plateau, it cannot service top tea as raw material for three months.

“Today, Nestlé is anchoring coffee production in Côte d’Ivoire, they bring this coffee to Lagos and process it and sell to Nigerians. They even have a platform on financing coffee production in Ivory Coast

“Millions of naira is taking to other African countries. Go to Top Tea, Nestle and ask them where do they get their raw materials from? Why are they neglecting the Nigerian farmers to boost the economy? Coffee /tea alone can employ more than 20 million people if attention is given to it. 21 states including Abuja can production coffee in Nigeria,” he stressed.

Dr Hassan emphasized that everywhere tea and Coffee are produced, you see things like Tea Development Council, Coffee Board and so on, but the Nigerian government abandoned it.

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