In a bid to unlock the immense potential of Nigeria’s coconut industry, the National Coconut Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NACOPPMAN) has highlighted that the sector has the capacity to contribute over $400 billion to the Nigerian economy. Dr Nma Okoroji, President of NACOPPMAN, emphasized that this promising outcome could be achieved if the government focuses on providing the industry with innovative hybrid coconut seedlings, particularly the Malaysian varieties known to yield fruits within three to four years.
Speaking during an interview in Abuja on Monday, Dr Okoroji pointed out that despite Nigeria’s larger arable land compared to Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and Benin Republic, the country produces fewer coconuts. She expressed the need for the government to pay attention to coconut production and processing, stressing that the right support could lead to substantial economic gains.
The Value Proposition: $400 Billion
Dr Okoroji underscored the substantial economic benefits that a thriving coconut industry could bring. The hybrid coconut seedlings that NACOPPMAN is advocating for can produce a minimum of 100 nuts per tree after just three years. With each nut potentially sold at N100, a single hectare of coconut plantation with 200 trees could yield N2 million annually. Moreover, these hybrid varieties can continue to produce for up to 80 years, promising sustained income for farmers.
Challenges and Potential Solutions
Dr Okoroji highlighted several challenges currently hampering the growth of the coconut industry in Nigeria. She mentioned the lack of government support, leading to imports instead of exports, and limited access to modern agricultural practices. NACOPPMAN called on the government to provide assistance in various aspects, including mechanization, irrigation systems, and access to organic pesticides and plant-enhancing products. The association emphasized the importance of mechanization, tractors, and consistent water supply to enhance coconut cultivation.
Despite the significant promise of Nigeria’s coconut industry, its export potential has faced challenges. In the first half of 2022, Nigeria exported desiccated coconuts worth N13.86 billion, accounting for only 0.1% of the total export value during that period. This decline in export activity was further reflected in Nairametrics’ report, which indicated that coconuts did not make it to the list of top ten agriculture exports from Nigeria in the first quarter of 2023.
NACOPPMAN’s call for innovative hybrid coconut seedlings, improved government support, and investment in mechanization and irrigation systems indicate a concerted effort to transform Nigeria’s coconut industry into a significant contributor to the nation’s economy. With the potential to generate $400 billion, the industry’s growth could benefit farmers and contribute to overall economic diversification and resilience.