As a crucial step towards advancing the non-oil sector in alignment with the Presidents Eight Point Agenda, the Nigerian government has pledged to revitalize the nation’s Rubber Industry. The government is poised to play host to the International Rubber Study Group (IRSG) 55th Annual Assembly and the much-anticipated 2024 Rubber Summit, to be held from May 20-24, 2024. Doris Uzoka-Anite, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, mentioned this when she received the Secretary-General of the International Rubber Study Group in Abuja and also inaugurated the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the upcoming event.
This endeavor showcases the country’s growing commitment to the rubber industry. The Minister believes that the event will generate significant attention and funding to rejuvenate and reposition the Nigerian Rubber Value-Chain sub-sector. This will ultimately result in enhanced production, industrial processing, and domestic value addition for local consumption, as well as targeted exports to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) and other markets. The Minister remains hopeful that the visit will trigger measures that establish a thriving and sustainable Rubber Industry in Nigeria.
Tackling the obstacles calls for stakeholders’ collaboration.
Uzoka-Anite stated that revitalizing Nigeria’s rubber industry through the growth of the rubber value chain will yield numerous benefits for the country’s economy. This includes generating employment opportunities, boosting foreign exchange earnings, and enhancing the quality of life for stakeholders. In order to tackle these obstacles effectively, it is necessary for all stakeholders involved to come together and work in unity. This collaborative approach will help to gather resources, knowledge, and expertise, ultimately pushing for the expansion of rubber production and improving its value in line with international standards.
She mentioned that this endeavor aims to capitalize on the worldwide desire for eco-friendly rubber and secure a substantial portion of the international rubber industry. Joseph Adelegan, the Secretary General of the International Rubber Study Group (IRSG), highlighted the immense opportunities offered by the rubber sector and assured that it has the capacity to draw suitable investments to Nigeria. While there is financial support for rubber production, the main hurdle lies in gaining access to these funds. He observed that several individuals lack the knowledge of composing lucrative business proposals, leading to a multitude of forms being received but disregarded due to their failure in meeting the required criteria.
Rubber production reached approximately 53,000 tonnes in 2017.
Over the years, the Nigeria Rubber Industry has declined drastically due to less attention from the government. Within the country, states like Edo, Delta, Ondo, Ogun, Abia, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Rivers, Ebonyi, and Bayelsa are known for producing rubber. In 2017, Nigeria’s natural rubber production reached approximately 53,000 tonnes. Rubber, which forms an integral part of Nigeria’s agro-industry and economy, plays a crucial role by supplying a wide range of non-edible commodities.
These products are of great significance, serving essential purposes in the domestic sphere as well as in critical healthcare facilities. Rubber plays a vital role in boosting the Nigerian economy through its valuable contribution to agro-based industries, generation of foreign exchange earnings, and the extensive range of applications it offers as a raw material. It is worth noting that the versatility of rubber knows no bounds. Although Nigeria’s output of natural rubber has experienced significant fluctuations in recent times, it reached a remarkable 149,396.65 tons in the year 2022.
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Recall that the Presidential Initiative on Rubber which was launched in 2006, aimed at boosting the domestic production and processing of rubber, encountered a striking failure resulting in an approximate annual loss of N2 trillion in both foreign and local currencies. The estimation provided by experts is based on the discrepancy within the rubber market since the nation has not yet fully tapped into its export capabilities, which could result in higher foreign exchange earnings during a time of limited availability of foreign currencies.