Alhaji Abubakar Kyari, the Minister in charge of Agriculture and Food Security, recently announced the Federal Government’s ambitious plans to bolster Nigeria coconut production. The goal is to raise the current output of 224,186 Metric Tonnes (MT) to an impressive 500,000MT by 2025. This target represents a remarkable 123% surge in the crop production within the country. Speaking during the 2023 10th International Coconut Festival AGUNKEFEST in Badagry, Lagos, Kyari said it is crucial to increase Nigeria coconut production, aiming to elevate Nigeria’s current position of 19th among global coconut producing nations.
He announced the allocation of 1,000 seedlings of the crop specifically for the festival. Kyari said the AGUNKEFEST 2023, with the theme ‘A Decade of Coconut Culture to Ignite Century Action Plan For Coconut Prosperity in Nigeria’ goes beyond a mere celebration of the crops. It serves as a strong call for collaboration amongst farmers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and policy makers to join forces and foster significant advancements within the sub-sector. Also, the aim is to enrich individually, our localities and the nations as a whole.
Export of the crop and its derivatives can generate over N20bn FX.
Kyari implored Nigerian citizens to forge a collective effort towards propelling the industry’s prosperity and sustainability. In his view, effectively utilizing the sector’s untapped possibilities can yield immense economic advancement. Represented by Mrs. Abimbola Oguntuyi, the Lagos State Coordinator of the ministry, Kyari said agriculture should be served with utmost focus. She highlighted its vast potential as a lucrative business venture that can address critical issues such as unemployment among our youth, boost revenue generation, diversify our economy, lessen our reliance on oil, and secure our sources of income while conserving foreign exchange.
Mrs. Lola Ade-John, the Minister of Tourism, expressed that the festival would serve a dual purpose of advancing tourism and commemorating the rich culture and traditions of Nigeria, while simultaneously providing a substantial boost to the nation’s economy. Mrs. Lola projected that the export of the crop and its derivatives alone had the potential to generate over ₦20 billion in foreign exchange for the country. Mr. Tony Okonju, a Chief Tourism Officer, who represented Mrs. Lola, said if the industry’s potential is harnessed effectively, it holds substantial prospects in catering to the nation’s sustenance, raw materials, financial gains, and employment opportunities.
Govt urged to promote cultivation of the crop across Nigeria.
She said the festival aimed to foster understanding regarding the economical, ecological, and nourishing significance of the crops, as well as promote sustainable industry practices. Mr. Julian Baricuatro, President of the International Coconut Festival, Canada, in his address, called upon the Nigerian government to promote cultivation of the crop across the country, adding that engaging in the crop farming could offer substantial opportunities for the youth. In emphasizing the significance of the nutritional and health values of the crop, he called on the government to actively focus on enhancing the crop’s value chain.
Lagos State Agriculture Commissioner, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, discussed plans to revamp Topo Island in Badagry, the first coconut plantation in West Africa. In her absence, Mr. Oladapo Olakulehin, the General Manager of Lagos State Coconut Development Authority (LASCODA), who represented her revealed the ministry’s plan to partner with Tourism, Arts, and Culture for the purpose of developing additional alluring tourist destinations in Badagry. Prince Mesi Doheto, the President of African Coconut Heritage Initiative (AFRICOCO), regards the festival as a meeting point between culture and innovation.
Seedlings were distributed to cultivators and marketers.
Moreover, the festival showcases the diverse cultural heritage of diverse communities engaged in the crop production, shedding light on the tremendous global economic importance of the crop. Mesi expressed her gratitude to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, as well as the Ministry of Agriculture, LASCODA, Federal Ministries of Tourism and Agriculture, Nigeria Institute for Oil Palm Research, and the three Councils in Badagry, recognizing their invaluable support. According to NAN, the 2023 festival commenced by initiating plantation of the crop in various areas, then dispersing the seedlings to educational institutions and public areas. A portion of the seedlings were donated to cultivators and marketing associations.