The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and investment, Mariam Katagum, has called for more investment in the coconut industry for economic growth.
Katagum made the call at the inauguration of this year’s Coconut Planting Season with the Theme ”Actualizing Coconut Sufficiency in Nigeria (COSIN), on Tuesday in Abuja.
She explained that more investment would develop the coconut sub-sector by boosting production, job creation through its numerous value chains and also improve the economy.
She noted that government was committed to the development of the coconut sub-sector and would work with the association to create effective support systems for its growth.
According to her, it is imperative for the association to develop an effective work and growth plan that can be supported by government for the expansion of the commodity.
“As a Ministry, we are committed to supporting activities that will help harness the immense benefits of coconut to the economy, which is why the ministry nurtured and formed the National Coconut Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NACOPPMAN).
“The Coconut is a commodity with lots of economic, medicinal and nutritional value and the market for it in Nigeria is huge.Unfortunately, the local supply can only meet about 20 per cent of the demand, hence the need to urgently address the supply side constraints.
“The global market for the coconut is in excess of 6 billion dollars, which means that the opportunities are huge and as the 18th largest world producer of coconuts, we must work harder to increase our market share.
“Therefore, the 2021 Coconut Planting Season flag-off, is a vital step in a series of activities to actualize the coconut master plan for economic, health and export potential.
“Without doubt, we need more coconut plantations and industries to support the few that are already existing in states such as Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Rivers among others”
The Minister called on the private sector to key into the opportunity of developing the coconut value chain in Nigeria to help meet the demand of consumers, adding that we cannot continue to import what we can produce locally.
Dr Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, said that the event was in line with the present administration’s effort to develop the non oil sector by boosting agriculture production for increased foreign exchange, wealth and job creation.
Represented by Director, Human Resources Department, Mr Samuel Alabi, he lauded the association’s six years plan 2021- 2027 of establishing 10,000 hectare of coconut plantation in each of the coconut viable states in Nigeria under the campaign of “One Family Three Coconut Trees”
He added that the plan was an ambitious and realizable plan with potentials to rebrand and reposition the industry as an occupation of choice for all.
Earlier, Mrs Nma Okoroji, the president of the association said that the Nigerian coconut industry is 80 per cent untapped with the potential to generate foreign exchange even greater than the current crude oil earnings.
She added that coconut industry has an inelastic value chain that transcends health benefits, employment generation for youth and women, family economic empowerment, medical industry, furniture, domestic kits and National income to boost Gross Domestic Product.
According to her, the critical point of the 2021 coconut planting season aimed to achieve the actualisation of coconut sufficiency in Nigeria through the establishment of coconut tree planting.
“The crop can play a significant role in the economic development of the states of our dear country. We cannot continue to import what we can produce locally,” she said.
Mr Sabo Nanono, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, says that agriculture is important in the development of the nation and thereby stressed the need for diversification of the economy from oil to agriculture.
Represented by a Deputy Director in the ministry, Mohammed Usman, the Minister noted that coconut industry has the capacity to increase the nation’s GDP, provide business opportunities and employment.