By Felix Khanoba
The Federal Government has expressed its readiness to boost the nation’s coconut industry to ensure investors in the sub-sector gain a significant share of the over $6 billion global market of the product.
Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Katagum, made this known during the flag-off of the 2021 Coconut Planting Season on Tuesday in Abuja.
The minister said the theme of the programme – ‘Actualizing Coconut Sufficiency in Nigeria (COSIN), Planting trees with, Economic, Health and Export Potential’ – was apt and in line with the government’s efforts to diversify the economy and boost non-oil commodity exports.
While expressing concerns over the low production of coconuts in the country, the minister said the present administration would throw its weight behind programmes to energise the sector.
She said: “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% of the demand, hence the need to urgently address the supply side constraints.
“I am made to understand that your Association is promoting the establishment of 10,000 hectares of Coconut Plantations in each of the Coconut viable States in Nigeria, under the “One Family Three Coconut Trees” campaign.
” This is a programme that can reposition the Coconut industry in our country to be among the largest Coconut producers in Africa and the world at large. 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.
“As a Ministry, we are committed to supporting activities that will help harness the immense benefits of the coconut to the economy, which is why the Ministry nurtured and formed the National Coconut Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NACOPPMAN).
“This was done to create a value chain for both local and international consumption of the commodity, especially now that the export market is growing appreciably.
” Ladies and Gentlemen, the global market for the coconut is in excess of USD $6 billion, which means that the opportunities are huge. Therefore, as the 18th largest world producer of coconuts, we must work harder to increase our market share, and the best strategy is to start cultivation of the commodity for improved yield. Your campaign, “One Family, Three Coconut Trees” is strategic, and you must sustain the vision.”
Katagum showered praises on NACOPPNAM for organising the programme and for putting in place other initiatives, adding that there was need to establish more coconut plantations and strengthen the ones already existing in Akwa Ibom, Lagos. Rivers, among other states.
“The Nigerian Coconut Industry can be given a boost with more investment, so that it can provide jobs to thousands of unemployed youths, through its numerous value chains. Government is committed to the development of the coconut sub-sector and would work with your Association to create effective support systems for the growth of the commodity.
” I therefore, enjoin you, to develop an effective work and growth plan that can be supported by the government for the expansion of the commodity,” the minister said.
Also speaking at the event, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, said the Federal Government would fully support the initiative aimed at planting 10,000 hectares of coconut in the country.
The Permanent Secretary, who was represented by the Director, Human Resource Department in the Ministry, Mr. Simon Alabi, commended NACOPPNAM for its efforts in boosting the nation’s investment through the coconut value chain.