Farmers ask FG to support in repositioning coconut value chain
Coconut farmers across Nigeria have called on the federal ministry of agriculture and rural development to create a national policy on the tree crop to boost production capacity so as to meet demands for local and international markets.
The farmers, at a day stakeholders’ meeting on coconut value chain organised by the ministry in collaboration with the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) on Tuesday in Benin City, said coconut has a huge potential that should be exploited for the greater good of the society.
Presenting a paper titled, “The coconut tree: Economic benefit in Nigeria,” Dapo Olakulehin, general manager, Lagos Coconut Development Authority (LASCODA) said coconut is a major non-oil export foreign exchange earner that provides means of livelihoods for many families in Nigeria.
Olakulehin said Lagos accounted for about 70 percent of the country’s coconut production, adding that they are committed to producing over 200 million seedlings in the next five years.
According to him, only proactive interventions such as the development of a national policy and a regulatory agency could strengthen the coconut value chain and increase employment generation.
Also speaking, Nma Okoroji, president of the National Coconut Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NACOPPMAN), said Nigeria lags behind other countries in coconut production, thus the need to identify the current constraints responsible for the decline in the sector.
“We appeal to the ministry to come up with a robust policy to develop the coconut value chain as we are committed to planting about 10,000 coconut trees in each of the coconut viable states annually,” Okoroji said.
In his remarks, Ernest Umakhihe, the permanent secretary of the federal ministry of agriculture and rural development, said Nigeria’s coconut national production is about 229,578 metric tonnes and the area under cultivation is estimated at 30,420 hectares.
Represented by Chukwuemeka Ukattah, deputy director of the ministry, Umakhihe said: “There is need for stakeholders to cash in on the deficit and see it as an opportunity to increase production through replanting of aged plantation and value addition”.