… Nigeria spends $600m on imports
One of the emerging indigenous farms is about to revolutionise the production of kenaf, which for decades has been ignored by many Nigerian farmers but has huge potentials for a range of value chain products.
National Coordinator of Nigeria Farmers Groups and Cooperative Societies, who is also Managing Director of NFGCS Farms Limited, Mr Retson Tedheke, explained why the farm going into massive kenaf production.
Kenaf plant is a source of textile fibre used in making jute bags and rope, and is suitable for a range of paper and cardboard products. It is also used for building materials because of its fibre strength, as well as a range of other products like media acoustics due to sound-proofing properties of the crop.
For many years, absence of jute bags has affected the farmers’ ability to store grains properly resulting in the high prevalence of aflatoxins and other mycotoxin contaminations in the country-a situation that not only affect the price of grains but also export quality of these products.
Conducting Daily Trust around the Kenaf plantation at the farm site in Ga’ate Kokona, Nasarawa State, Mr Tedheke explained why they are going into massive cultivation of Kenaf in collaboration with the state government.
“Nigerians spends about 600 million dollars to import Kenaf. We are discussing with the Nasarawa State government to plant a thousand hectares of Kenaf and open the state for the production of the crop,” Tedheke said.
The farmers want a share of that $600 million figure of import because according to them, there is huge internal market even in the building industry as the crop is a major raw material used for making POP (Plaster of Paris) ceilings.
With the massive production, they are expecting to attract solid partnership with investors to take a chunk of that market and cut a cake of that multimillion dollar industry.
While reacting to social media controversy over Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s comments that the NFGCS grew their farm investment from N1.5 million to N1.5 billion in three years, the farmers’ group said their current farm investment was actually worth more than N1.5 billion.
The NFGCS Farms Limited MD, challenged social media critics to visit the farm and assess it for themselves to ascertain the veracity of what the vice president said instead of embarking on social media campaign of blackmail.
“Right now, we have a ranch with 500 animals.We are building capacity for a 10, 000 animal ranch (5,000 for fattening and 5,000 for breeding).
“As at today, we have capacity for 100 tons per day rice mill and we are increasing that to 1000 tons per day by 2020; and not just that, we are opening a Kenaf line of the plantation.
“We are opening a feed mill, soya bean oil mill, groundnut mill and all these are already on the ground in addition to the 3,000 hectares of cultivated land.
“So the discussion and controversy on valuation of N1.5 billion around the vice president,I have always said and will repeat it here: I think the vice president undervalued us if you look at what we have,” he said.
According to Tedheke, they are currently talking to one of the commercial banks for a loan of over N1 billion to expand their operations, adding that the bank has already put N750 million on the table.