Stakeholders in the coconut value chain on Friday listed ways to surmounting challenges confronting the coconut value chain in Lagos State.
They spoke, in different interviews, in Lagos against the backdrop of a workshop on Coconut Value Chain Stakeholders Analysis Project Launch.
The workshop was organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the Lagos State Coconut Development Authority in Lagos.
Some of the stakeholders identified lack of hybrid seedlings, poor supply, lack of organic manure, low production, lack of processing industry as some of the challenges confronting the sector.
Alhaji Hakeem Oyelekan, a coconut farmer in Badagry, said that there are many challenges confronting coconut farmers in the value chain, adding that FAO and UNIDO intervention was very apt.
Oyelekan said many coconut farmers were not aware of other opportunities available in the value chain; thus the need for government’s support and enlightenment.
He said farmers expected that the workshop to broaden their knowledge of opportunities in the value chain.
“If you are planting coconut and you don’t know what other value chain are available in the business you are doing, you are not going to make any reasonable success.
“The workshop offers farmers a lot of exposure opportunities to know there are other things they can do with their product.
“Coconut, being one of the most economical trees we have in Lagos State and Nigeria, in general, we need to tap into the numerous opportunities available therein,” he said.
Also, Mr John-Bede Anthonio, Founder, First African Coconut, said that there was a big challenge in coconut value chain which can produce about 365 products and generate foreign exchange for the country.
He said that there was a need to build the technical manpower in the value chain.
According to him, coconut seedlings are not available due to low production.
He noted that there was need to find a lasting solution to address low production, lack of technical manpower and experience skills in finance.
“Our own vision is to plant 100,000 hectares not just in Nigeria, but across Africa,” Antonio said.
Mr Jean Bakole, Regional Director, UNIDO Regional Office Hub, said the project is an initial inception phase to carry out the coconut Value Chain Analysis (VCA), design an effective action plan and identify public and private investments.
He said that it would also provide technical assistance, and policy implications for sustainable coconut value chain development.
Also, Mr Abubakar Suleiman, Assistant FAO Representative in Nigeria (Programme), noted the efforts of Lagos State government in developing the agricultural sector by way of interventions in areas where the state has competitive and comparative advantages.
Suleiman said that the state government had requested FAO technical support in 2020 to provide technical support under FAO Unilateral Trust Fund (UTF) modality, in order to carry out coconut value chain development in the state.
He said that in order to make the support technically feasible, cost-effective and ensure an optimised return on government investment, FAO proposed implementation of an initial inception phase for six months.