… Council rolls out plan to develop fruit production
The annual national demand for fruit juices is presently estimated at 550 million litres, but the current supply is estimated at 135 million litters which represent less than 25% of the demand, the Raw Material and Research Development Council (RMRDC) has said.
The Director-General of the council, Dr. Ibrahim Hussaini Doko, who made this known, said the fall in the local production was as a result of numerous challenges bedeviling the fruit juice subsector, which he noted the Council had moved in to address.
Fruit juice is a liquid that is naturally contained in fruits. It is extracted by mechanically squeezing or macerating the fruits. It is produced and consumed for its refreshing character, nutritional benefits and as a good source of instant energy. They are natural staple food of man containing essential nutrients in adequate proportions. Fruits are excellent sources of minerals, vitamins and enzymes. They are easily digested and bring about a cleansing effect on the blood and the digestive tract.
Over the past several years, the fruit juice market has shown strong growth due to shifting trends among health conscious consumers from carbonated drinks towards natural beverages free from sugars, flavours and preservatives. Several other factors such as increasing disposable incomes, value addition, product innovation and growth in emerging markets have further helped to sustain the growth of this market.
According to the DG, RMRDC, the global juices industry is estimated at about $92 billion and in Nigeria, about 930,000 tonnes of citrus fruits are produced annually from an estimated hectarage of three million hectares of land.
This, he said, ranked the country ninth among the major producing countries of the different types of citrus fruits.
The DG noted that the challenges being faced in the areas of production, harvest, post harvest processing, marketing and storage are preventing farmers and investors from fully exploiting the best of citrus production. However, the need to increase local processing of fruits has become imperative. Increase in volume of production of citrus cultivation can readily translate to poverty reduction among rural farmers. For the entrepreneurs in the industry, fruit juice has a great potential for export, especially in the west coast where indeed a lot of export is taking place.
It would be recalled that in 2002, the government of Nigeria placed an import ban on fruit juices in retail packs, fruit juice drinks, fresh and dried fruits. It was expected that the ban on the importation of these items will stimulate growth in citrus production. Fruit juice manufacturing companies have already taken advantage of the ban to establish orchards to feed their plants. In order to promote increase in the production of tropical fruits such as citrus, the Presidential Initiative on Tropical Fruits Production in Nigeria was launched in 2005. A National Implementation Committee was set up to find ways of achieving 10% of the world tropical fruits production within 4 years. About 30 – 50% of these citrus fruit gets spoilt on the way before getting to the final consumers in the urban centres.
Since the ban, the DG noted, consumption has increased by approximately 10% per year. It increased from 200 million litres in 2002 to 320 million litres in 2007. This climbed to about 550 million litres in 2017. Nearly all (95%) of this juice is made from imported concentrates. The market for fruit concentrate, pre-mix and syrup (concentrates) rose from 1.5 million kg in 2002 to about 40 million kg in 2017. Firms in the European Union (EU), South America, Asia and South Africa are among the major suppliers of fruit juice and concentrate to Nigeria. However, with the import ban on consumer-pack fruit juice/drinks, local processing activities have increased rapidly in order to meet domestic demand. Most popular brands of fruit juices in the Nigerian markets today are: Frutta, Edge, 5 Alive, Chivita, Fumman, Dansa, Fan Juice, Chi Exotic, Lloyd’s fruit squeeze, Dudu, Cyway natural drink, etc. Common packaging is tetra pak, can, bottle (plastic and glass) and pouches.
At present, juice processing technology in Nigeria ranges from individuals preparing juice at home for family consumption to multinational conglomerate with several inter-connected high capacity plants and juice product lines serving global demands. Most fruit juices which appear on the retail market in cans, bottles, tetra-pack are derived from citrus fruits such as orange, lime, lemon, tangerine and grapefruit. Others include mango, pineapple, guava and a blend from two or more or the fruits usually called mixed fruit.
The DG said despite the increase in consumption, Nigeria is yet to meet the recommended daily fruit juice consumption. The recommended minimum daily requirement of fruit juice is 75mg while daily intake in Nigeria is still under 20mg.
Many problems constrain fruit juice production in Nigeria, the DG said. One of the most important one is that most tropical fruits are seasonal and highly perishable. Postharvest losses of fruits and vegetables in Nigeria during season ranged from 35 – 100%. This is true for oranges, pineapple, mango, pawpaw (papaya) and cashew fruit to mention a few. Once harvested, they continue to respire rapidly and lose moisture through transpiration because of the tropical atmospherics of conditions of high temperature and high relative humidity. These impose physiological stress and accelerate biochemical reactions that speed up deterioration in the fruits..
He said to solve some of the problems faced by the industries in this sector, RMRDC in collaboration with the fruit juice group of the Food, Beverages and Tobacco sector of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) organized a stakeholders’ forum on sourcing of raw materials for the fruit juice industry at the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) House, Ikeja, Lagos. At the meeting, the fruit juice producers complained about lack of elite materials for fruit juice production. This led the Council in conjunction with National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB), National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT) and FUNMAN Agro-products Industries Ltd, through the Science and Technology Education Post-Basic Project (STEP-B) to develop improved varieties of Pineapple, Banana, Mango and Citrus using tissue culture technique. The improved varieties produce more juice. In addition to other advantages, the project provided an opportunity to drive the deployment of the improved varieties and to promote investment in tropical fruits cultivation and processing. It also assisted in reducing importation of fruits for industrial processing locally. It has also made the fruits more available and affordable to the populace.
He said the Council also collaborated with Fumman Farms to organize a workshop to sensitize farmers in the South West zone. As at today, the famers in the South West have formed themselves into groups through which information on improved seedlings, best practices and marketing requirements to boost their businesses are disseminated.
The Council is also collaborating with Teragro Company, Jos, the only company producing fruit juice concentrate. Right now, the Company is out of production and one of its challenges is unavailability of raw materials. The Council is collaborating with the Company to boost its raw materials supply. Also, a database of players in the sector has been generated. It is providing requisite information on areas of abundant availability of diverse topical fruits, list of commercial processors, profile of products, import and consumption level, equipment fabricators, and research and development to support continuous innovation.
Likewise, in February 2017, the Council organized a capacity building workshop on best practices in tropical fruits production in collaboration with Fumman Farms in the South West zone. As a fallout of the workshop, the DG said the famers in the South West have now formed themselves into groups through which information on improved seedlings, best practices and marketing information are being continuously disseminated to boost their businesses.
‘’This year, 16,000 improved seedlings of mango and citrus were distributed to fruit farmers in the South-West and North-Central zones of the country for the 2018 planting season. The seedlings were produced in 2017and the distribution was done in the second quarter of 2018 when rain became established in the zone. Also, on Tuesday, 15th May, 2018, 4,000 seedlings of two varieties of mango (Kate exotic species and Ogbomoso mango) were distributed to farmers in a ceremony held at the FUMMAN farm in Ajaawa, Ogbomoso, Oyo State. This exercise will be continued on yearly basis until adequate planting materials are available in adequate and sustainable quantities,’’ the DG added.
According to him, the Council is presently working out modalities to ensure that participating farmers are provided with other necessary inputs such as chemicals and insect traps to prevent infestation of the fruits and fruit trees.
He said the Council has perfected plans to import juice concentrating equipment for reverse engineering purposes in order to build the capacity of our locally engineers.