The State Coordinator, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Lagos, Mrs Olayinka Akeredolu, has urged the federal and state governments to increase coconut production in Nigeria.
Akeredolu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday that it was worrisome that most cottage industries in the country depended largely on importation of coconut.
She said that continuous importation of coconut from neighboring African countries was expensive, unrealistic, and unsustainable.
The state coordinator said the inability of the local production to meet the processing demand had resulted in the importation of nuts from neighbouring West African countries like Ghana, Togo and Ivory Coast.
She noted that the level of production presently was inadequate and not enough to feed the cottage industries in the country.
Akeredolu appealed to government at all levels to create an enabling environment for private investors to thrive in the value chain.
According to her, the major thing now is to increase our production; the coconut we are producing in Nigeria is inadequate for us locally not to talk of exporting.
“There is not enough coconut produced within the country to feed the cottage industries.
“We can only increase our production through involvement of our private sector because it is a capital-intensive investment.
“So, we need the active participation of the private sector to buy into the programme and be interested in the coconut industry and invest in it,” she said.
The director said that Africa was not anywhere close in the list of producing countries adding that Indonesia was the largest producer of coconut, followed by Philippines and India.
She said that Nigeria needed to step up production in order to benefit from the global coconut earnings.
“If you check the major producers of coconut, Africa is not one; we are just managing to produce a little over 300,000 metric tonnes. Indonesia is already producing 17.3 million.
“We need to step up. There is global competitiveness and it is projected that by 2026, the global coconut earning will hit about 31 billion dollars.
“Nigeria should key into this global competitiveness so that we can generate some foreign exchange from coconut,” Akeredolu said.
The director urged government to provide an enabling environment for the public and private sectors to invest in coconut production.
“If we increase our production level within, then if industries are sited, they will have enough to work on, but if we must depend on importation, it is expensive, not realistic and not sustainable.
“If we increase our production then we will be able to feed the industries.
“As of today, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture is not involved in demonstration farms but it is involved in research and development.
“Research institutes like Nigeria Institute for Oil- Farm Research (NIFOR) have been given the mandate to work on coconut and oil palm. And a lot of resources are being put in place for the development of that area.
“For example, it is through the efforts of NIFOR that we now have hybrids that have short gestational periods of between three and four years and dwarf coconut.
“Coconut trees are usually very tall but with research, dwarf coconut was developed with high output; with more research, more investment in it, we can improve our production,” she said.
NAN reports that data from the United Nations Statistical Office showed that Nigeria spent between 219,446 dollars and 293,214 dollars on coconut importation in 2019 and 2018, respectively.