FROM RIGHT, Ms Abisola Olusanya, Acting State Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Olayiwole Onasanya, Permanent Secretary in the ministry and Mr Dapo Olakuleyin, General Manager, Lagos State Coconut Development, during the 2020 Coconut Day celebration in Lagos on Wednesday
By Olayinka Olawale
Lagos – The Lagos State Government says it will establish a coconut processing factory in Badagry to further optimize the use of coconut and harness the economic potentials in the value chain.
The State Acting Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, stated this Wednesday at the Year 2020 Coconut Day Celebration at Lagos Farm Centre, Agege.
The event was organised by the Lagos State Coconut Development Authority.
She said that the factory would be solely dedicated for the processing of coconut husk to coir, and cocopeat among others, under a Public Private Partnership arrangement.
She noted that these initiatives further reinforced the state’s position as the number one coconut producer in Nigeria in addition to providing employment opportunities for the teeming citizens.
She said the processing factory would also catalyze the entire industry, such that more people would come within the sub sector and create more business opportunities in the value chain.
According to him, Lagos State is the largest coconut producing state in Nigeria, contributing over 70 per cent to what the nation produced.
“I believe Nigeria as a whole produces over 350,000 tonnes of coconut annually but it is far behind what the likes of Philippines, Malaysia and other Asians countries are producing on an annual bases.
“We are very much far behind. To further optimize the use of coconut value chain, the state has proposed to establish a coconut factory in Badagry, solely dedicated for the processing of Coconut husk to Coir, coco peat etc. under a PPP arrangement in her 2021 Annual Work Plan and Budget (AWPB).
“It is believed that with all these efforts, Lagos State will continue to be number one coconut producer in Nigeria. This will to a great extent provide jobs and employment for teeming citizens.
“The support will also lead to various job creation in other areas aside the above mentioned and contribute to export and foreign exchange earnings for Nigeria,” she said.
Olusanya reiterated Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s commitment to adopting a much more robust food security strategy for the state next year.
The acting commissioner said the theme of this year’s celebration, “Coconut in the 21st Century Economy,” was aimed at creating awareness for the promotion of production, processing, utilization and commercialization of the coconut value chain.
She said that the occasion took into cognizance the fact that Nigeria ranked l8 among over 92 coconut producing countries of the world, of which Lagos State contributes about 70 per cent of national production of coconut and its products.
“Undoubtedly, agriculture remains the fulcrum of human survival with majority of the resources donated by nature.
“As such, it is not an overstatement that the crop we are celebrating today is perhaps one of the most single useful crop known to man in terms of versatility, product utilisation and longevity.
“This occasion, therefore, serves as another timely wake up to go back to the basics and rekindle the interests and values of coconut and its plethora of products for social, environmental, economic and wellness advantages as seen to be practiced and enjoyed sustainably by coconut driven economies.
‘Lagos has comparative advantage for coconut production, processing, utilisation and commercialisation and as of today, remains the hub of coconut in Nigeria and all coconuts traversing the West Coast of Africa,” she said.
Olusanya noted that the implementation of many initiatives in coconut sub-sector by the state government was to further bring awareness to the potentials in the coconut subsector of Agriculture that has not been fully tapped.
She congratulated all the coconut value chain actors and assured them of continuous government’s support in providing an enabling environment to unleash potentials of the wonder crop to an enviable level.
“I strongly advise actors in this value chain to make optimal use of the opportunities of this year’s commemoration of World Coconut Day to network, share information and diversify innovation among others in order to better their lots.
“The government alone cannot drive the initiative therefore, more investors are invited to partner with the state government by investing in the sub-sector to ensure sustainable job creation and food security.
“The development of the state can only be achieved if all hands are on deck,” she added.
In his presentation, Dr Joshua Odewale of the Nigeria Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR), Benin Ciy, urged government to set up an endowment fund for coconut and coconut products national consumption and export for about 20 years, noting that Philippines set a 25 year endowment fund goal.
He said there was need for government to take coconut as a personal crop with focus on development for enhancement of survival as if there was an international lockdown restrictions on importation of any coconut product both secondary and downstream products.
He said government must know the crop and identify the genuine stakeholders in the coconut industry as well as identify the secondary industry product need of the industry.