By Nefishetu Yakubu
The National Coconut Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NACOPPMAN) on Wednesday flagged off the first phase of planting 5,000 strands of coconut in Edo.
Mr Peter Aikhuomobhogbe, Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Edo, said at the ceremony in Benin that coconut had potential economic, health and nutritional benefits that should be harnessed.
Aikhuomobhogbe said coconut value chain had in the past been neglected and its potentials untapped.
“Coconut is a tree crop and a major livelihood activity in the state.
“Oil palm for example is receiving serious prominence. For now, the state is committed to increasing oil palm to 250,000 hectares and lands have been allocated to investors in this regard.
“The governor is also thinking of doing same for rubber and he is about to inaugurate a committee that will drive rubber initiatives.
“But on the whole, coconut will also be one of our key commodities that we will pursue under the tree crop initiative of the state government.
“The tree crop programme has been carved out as a special project in the ministry. Coconut will definitely be one of the commodity enterprises that will be driven by the project.
“Edo is highly endowed with good climatic condition that is favourable for coconut production. I do not see any reason why Edo should not be among the top five states that grow coconut in Nigeria.
“So, be rest assured that government is committed to supporting coconut farmers to harness the potentials of the tree crop,” he said.
The acting permanent secretary appealed for synergy between the ministry and the association to identify coconut farmers in the state.
“So, I will like to advise that we interface more to identify the farmers that already have lands to cultivate coconut so that we can support in terms of seedlings and inputs,” he added.
Earlier, the state coordinator of NACOPPMAN, Mrs Tracy Akpovwovwo, said coconut value chain had the potential to boost the nation’s foreign exchange earnings because of its economic value.
“In the past, people had over looked coconut production and concentrated on other crops because of lack of awareness about its potentials,” she said.
According to her, coconut plantation is that investment one can bequeath to one’s children because it is a serious business and means of income for life.