Lagos State government, on Monday, said it will establish a coconut processing factory in Badagry to further optimise the use of coconut and harness the economic potentials in the value chain.
Lagos is the largest coconut producing state in Nigeria, contributing over 70 per cent to what the nation produced.
The State Acting Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, disclosed this at the Year 2020 Coconut Day Celebration at Lagos Farm Centre, Agege, organised by the Lagos State Coconut Development Authority.
According to her, the factory would be solely dedicated for the processing of coconut husk to coir, and coco peat, among others under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement in the state’s Y2021 Annual Work Plan and Budget.
The commissioner said these initiatives further reinforced the state’s position as the number one coconut producer in the country in addition to providing employment opportunities for the teeming citizens.
Besides, she said the processing factory would also catalyze the entire industry as more people would come within the sub-sector and create more business opportunities in the value chain.
“I believe Nigeria as a whole produces over 350,000 tonnes of coconut annually but it is far behind what the likes of the Philippines, Malaysia and other Asians countries are producing on an annual base.
“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 from the above mentioned and contribute to export and foreign exchange earnings for Nigeria,” Olusanya said.
The commissioner reiterated Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s commitment to adopting a much more robust food security strategy for the state next year, saying the theme of this year’s celebration “Coconut in the 21St Century Economy” was aimed at creating awareness for the promotion of production, processing, utilisation and commercialization of the coconut value chain.
She said that the occasion takes into cognizance the fact that Nigeria ranks l8 among over 92 coconut producing countries of the world, of which Lagos State contributes about 70 per cent of the 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 utilization and longevity.
“This occasion, therefore, serves as another timely wake up to go back to the basis and rekindle the interests and values of coconut and its plethora of products for social, environmental, economic and wellness advantages as seen to be practised and enjoyed sustainably by coconut driven economies.
“Lagos has a comparative advantage for coconut production, processing, utilization and commercialization 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 sub-sector 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 City, Edo State, urged the government to set up an endowment fund for coconut and coconut products national consumption and export for about 20 years, noting that the Philippines set a 25-year endowment fund goal.
He said there was a 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 restriction on the importation of any coconut product both secondary and downstream products.
Odewale made the recommendations in his presentation titled theme: “Coconut in the 21st Century Economy.”
He said the 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.
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