The global coconut industry is worth $ 6.3 billion, a reason the Lagos State government is making efforts to get more Nigerians into the business, Daniel Essiet reports.
With about two million coconut trees, the Lagos State government says the industry is worth N10 billion. But the Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said the state has the potential of delivering over 10 million coconut trees with a yearly production of one billion husk nuts worth about N50 billion, adding that Lagos is the hub of coconut value chain, not only in Nigeria but also in the West African sub-region.
He made this known at the maiden edition of the International Coconut Summit held at the Airport Hotel, Ikeja.
However, the government is not only positioning Lagos as a money spinner but also as a contributor to rural development, better market connectivity, and local agricultural value addition. It also aims to provide opportunities for low-income households who would participate in development.
The President, Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria (FACAN), Dr Victor Iyama, said there was the need for more states and entrepreneurs to join hands with Lagos to explore business opportunities in the coconut industry which he noted has the capacity to produce huge foreign exchange for the country. This is because the European market potential is huge with the commodity sold in many forms, fresh and processed for many uses in health food, cooking and cosmetic products.
Analysts said changing consumer health and wellness preferences have spurred a boom in global demand for products such as coconut water and oil.
Yet, many coconut farmers are not deriving a sustainable livelihood from the crop.
Inyama said FACAN was ready to partner the government and producers to get more Nigerians to invest in coconut production.
Hr said the association was working to help farmers and exporters connect to national, regional and international value chains. This would involve training entrepreneurs to enhance their capability to meet international standards, he added.
He said FACAN supporting farmers to diversify income streams across the value chain.
Meanwhile, the Lagos government is establishing a coconut processing factory in Badagry to further optimise the use of coconut and harness the economic potential in the value chain.
The state Acting Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, said the factory would be dedicated to processing coconut husk to coir, and coco peat, among others, under a Public-Private Partnership deal in the state’s 2021 Annual Work Plan and Budget.
She noted that 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 citizens.
She said the processing factory would also catalyse the industry, such that more people would come to the sub sector and create more business opportunities in the value chain, adding that Lagos is the largest coconut producing state in Nigeria, contributing over 70 per cent to national production.