Feature: Set target for Governor Sanwo-Olu on Coconuts


Maybe what President Tinubu should do on a bid to enhance output is set each governor production targets for several crops starting with Lagos State and coconuts


Ayo Akinfe

[1] Coconuts is one agricultural crop that should easily be a big money spinner for Nigeria. If well harnessed, the sector could match the $50bn or so we generate from crude oil sales

[2] Nigeria is currently the world’s number 18 coconut producer with a disappointing output of 288,615 tonnes. Badagry Local Government Area alone could easily double that figure within four years if it wanted to. Coconuts grow well in sandy soil like that found around Badagry

[3] Indonesia producers about 19m tonnes, the Philippines 13m tonnes and India 11.5m tonnes. Now these are our agricultural competitors in every other commodity, so one does not need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that Nigeria’s coconut production should mirror theirs. We shamelessly only produce about 225,000 tonnes a year

[4] If you want to know how much disdain Nigeria has accorded coconut production, look at the fact that small nations like the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu produce more than us. In Africa, Tanzania and Ghana are also bigger producers than Nigeria

[5] Coconuts are known for their versatility of uses, ranging from food to cosmetics. They are used in chocolate bars, soaps, pharmaceuticals, etc. What makes the coconut unique is that every part of the crop is used for something. For instance, although not backed by empirical findings yet, virgin coconut oil has been claimed to improve the immune system of the human body. Some anecdotal evidence by users also claims that coconut virgin oil is good for control of hypertension, diabetes, high uric acid and lately, HIV/AIDS, among others

[6] Also, coconut water has been introduced into the retail market as a processed sports drink. Should we not be mass producing a sports drink made from coconut water called something like Naija Shayo to compete with Lucozade? Likewise, coconut oil is a major cooking ingredient that we can bottle alongside groundnut oil, maize oil and palm oil and sell it internationally

[7] Coir, the fiber from the husk of the coconut is used in ropes, mats, doormats, brushes, and sacks, as caulking for boats, and as stuffing fiber for mattresses. In addition, it is used in horticulture in potting compost, especially in orchid mix. Indonesia , The Philippines and India are making millions from this while we are fast asleep

[8] Traditionally, coconut trunks have been used to build small bridges and huts as they are likes for their straightness, strength and salt resistance but things are changing fast. In India’s Kerala State for instance, coconut trunks are used for house construction. Coconut timber comes from the trunk and is increasingly being used as an ecologically sound substitute for endangered hardwoods. We can produce an environmentally sustainable wood for the construction industry

[9] Today, the coconut water industry alone generates $4bn. Nigeria is missing out big time as this is a crop that can only be grown in low lying tropical countries. Our Atlantic coastline is ideal for it. Somewhere like Bayelsa State could easily be one huge coconut plantation that generates as much revenue as crude oil. Coconuts grow particularly well in areas with sandy soil like beaches

[10] What stops say Governor Sanwoolu from seizing the initiative here by offering hybrid seedlings, low interest loans and pesticides to farmers to expand coconut production? We need several large commercial plantations backed up by crushing and processing plants. As you can see once more, Nigeria’s biggest problem is not corruption, ethnicity or religious intolerance but intellectual laziness!


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