From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) has trained 50 coconut farmers and processors on an agroforestry system-based plantation model to boost the livelihoods of the farmers in Edo.
The capacity building was organised under the Coconut value chain of the ministry in collaboration with the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) in Benin
Declaring the training opened, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, said the training was part of efforts of the federal government to attain food security, and self-sufficiency in Nigeria.
Represented by Chukwuemeka Ukattah, a Director in the ministry, Abubakar said President Buhari was determined to turn around the nation’s economy through agriculture through its unwavering support for farmers and empowerment of women and youths.
“In an effort to attain food security, and self-sufficiency as well as improve the livelihood of Coconut farmers and processors, the government through the coconut value chain decided to provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills to establish and maintain a successful Coconut plantation.
” We will cover topics such as nursery establishment, field development, harvesting and processing to meet local and international markets standard and demand.
“With the right training, the coconut value chain has the potential to contribute significantly to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and generate employment,” he said.
Also speaking, the Executive Director of the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research
(NIFOR), Dr Celestine Ikuenobe, who welcomed participants to the workshop, said Nigeria’s coconut production was far below the demand.
Ikuenobe said “I am sure that if the National Coconut Producers Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NACOPPMAN), work with this agroforestry-based plantation model, the coconut value chain will be on a scale that can contribute very significantly to our economy.
“We suddenly got a huge demand for coconut seedlings in the last three to four years and we were caught napping because we did not prepare for the fact that there was going to be an upsurge in the demand for coconut seedlings,” he said.
He said that NIFOR was strengthening its capacity to meet the sudden upsurge in the demand for coconut seedlings.
“We are working to invigorate our coconut gardens in addition to other identified seed trees,” he added.
He maintained that in the last two years, they have replanted their coconut germplasm and in the next five years, there will be enough to provide nuts and materials for the industry.