By Amina Rabi’u Bako
Coconut is one of the most important and useful plants in the world. Apart from consuming the fruit and its water, many industries, such as pharmaceuticals, beverages and cosmetics, use its parts. As a rich fruit, it is encompassed with several opportunities that bring wealth to a nation. Everything about it is beneficial to man; it has economic, medicinal and nutritional value.
According to various global research findings, its uses can be seen from its components, ranging from the meat, oil, shell, coir, husk, water and lots more, making it more of a revenue economy booster.
Coconut is nicknamed a tree of life. Nigeria established its first coconut plantation in 1876 in Badagry, Lagos State. The crop grows in over 30 of Nigeria’s 36 states, with Lagos and Akwa Ibom states having the largest production area.
With 83 per cent of Nigeria’s states into the production of coconut, the country should succeed in producing and exporting the product across the world. Unfortunately, however, according to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), Nigeria ranks 19th in the production of coconut globally, placing the country far behind Indonesia, the Philippines and India.
As reported by Premium Times, the data obtained from the United Nations Office shows that Nigeria spent $219446.53 and $293214.22 on coconut importation in 2019 and 2018, respectively, an amount higher than $186094.58 spent on coconut importation in 2017.
The price of coconut in Nigeria today has risen by almost 100 per cent. This is not unconnected with over-reliance on coconut importation.
A coconut seller, Dahiru Umar, said, “The price keeps rising day by day. A single coconut has now multiplied its price compared to last year.”
Halima Abbas said, “the rise of coconut made me pause my coconut macaroons business for a while to see if the price might go down.”
National Coconut Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NACOPPMAN) is moving towards making sufficient coconut trees in every corner of Nigeria’s states. During the flag-off and election of NACOPPMAN held in Kano, the Chairman, Fatima Abubakar, in her speech, said, “We cannot continue to import what we can produce locally! Coconut sufficiency in Nigeria is a reality.”
We need to do much better than we are doing. For, among other reasons, coconut has several health benefits. The reader may visit the Healthline.com website to see some of the benefits, which space will not allow me to describe here.
Nigeria should not afford to be left behind in the production of coconut. With the NACOPPMAN, the country can realise its dream of actualising coconut sufficiency, thereby utilising its health benefits and leveraging its economic value. Moreover, it is pertinent for the government to provide an enabling environment to attract foreign investors to come into the business. The earlier we wake up, the better.
Amina Rabi’u Bako is of the Faculty of Communication, Bayero University, Kano.