Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
Precisely two years ago, Daily Sun reported how some persons from Nsukka in Enugu State were turning millionaires courtesy of their involvement in the value chain of yellow species of pepper, popularly called “Ose Nsukka”, meaning Nsukka pepper in Igbo.
The pepper, essentially used for spicing of food is a major means of livelihood for many in the northern zone of the state. It is believed that the species can only grow in Nsukka soil.
For this reason, hundreds of farmers in the area have continued to channel their resources to growing the crop, making fortunes out of it. The Nsukka yellow pepper is so much sought after attracting buyers from various parts of the country.
Investigations revealed that if the necessary requirements were met, the state could be one of the highest suppliers of the product in the world. Already, the Nsukka Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NCCIMA), has an order to supply 100 tons of Ose Nsukka to the United States of America monthly for the next five years.
Its Director General, Dr Dan Oche, said: “What is agitating me is that Nsukka Chamber of Commerce is promoting export of made in Nigeria products. As we speak, we have order to supply 100 tons of Nsukka Yellow Pepper (Yellow Habarino) to US monthly bases for the next five years. We also have an order to supply scent leaf, called Nchanwu in Igbo.
“Our off takers and buyers require that before these products will be accepted in any of the EU countries, we make sure we subject the package to an explosive detecting machine. They call it ADM. “Our plan is to export from the Akanu Ibiam Airport, Enugu.
“We just found out that the airport doesn’t have that machine. It is only available in Lagos and Abuja. If we move our consignment from Enugu to Lagos, it adds to the cost of that product. By the time our product arrives US, we may not be able to compete favourably because of our price and so we are losing.
“We have made an appeal to the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment to help us talk to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). We made the inquiry on our own and discovered that this machine is just N47 million.
“We are also talking with Enugu State Government to help us talk to the Ministry of Aviation especially FAAN that manages the airport to buy this machine and install in Enugu airport. They said Enugu airport is an international airport, it is also a cargo airport, let us have that machine so that those of us who are interested in keying in into the diversification policy of the Federal Government by exporting made in Nigeria products, can export from Enugu instead of taking it to Lagos.”
Yellow pepper farmers had two years ago got a boost from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as the nation’s apex bank shortlisted 600 of them for its agricultural loan scheme. Oche said the aim was to produce the yellow pepper in commercial quantity in which about 80 per cent of it would be exported to Europe and America:
“Each of the 600 farmers screened and shortlisted by the CBN will have his or her account credited with N900,000 after the training programme by the bank without any collateral.”
He also disclosed that the chamber acquired hectares of land in Uzowani Local Government Area. Each of the 600 farmers would be given a hectare to cultivate the yellow pepper. He explained that the chamber acquired the land to enable it monitor the farmers for the repayment of the loan at the agreed time, “because the chamber is their guarantee.”
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, during the commission of the recently reconstructed runway of the airport promised that work would soon commence on its cargo section.