The Lagos State Government has donated 300 coconut seedlings to the Teaching and Research Farm, Faculty of Agriculture, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, for the establishment of a coconut plantation.
The state Commissioner for Agriculture, Abisola Olusanya, handed over the seedlings at the Lagos Farm Centre, Oko Oba, Agege, on Wednesday.
Ms Olusanya said the collaboration was part of the state’s ongoing coconut development initiative aimed at promoting and expanding the coconut value chain in the country.
The commissioner, who was represented by Dapo Olakulehi, General Manager, Lagos State Coconut Development Authority (LASCODA), said the government would continue to collaborate with both private and public institutions to promote coconut research and development.
“This is primarily due to the report by World Atlas that there is an increase in the demand for coconut products by 500 per cent in the past five years, which led to the discussion on ways by which the Lagos State Government and Nigeria at large can benefit from this global market.
“In order to benefit from this market, there is need to create more awareness and promote the production, processing and utilisation of coconut.
“This will encourage and engage more people to take advantage of this global opportunity,” the commissioner said.
Ms Olusanya noted that the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had provided over one million coconut seedlings to farmers either directly from the government or indirectly through the coconut out-grower scheme.
She said that the coconut seedlings were not only for farmers in the state but for all others across the country who wished to venture into coconut production with Lagos State, being the final destination for its processing and commercialisation.
Ms Olusanya said: “with the increase in awareness on the potentials of the coconut value chain, the state government has been training and empowering a lot of processors on the utilisation of coconut for commercial purposes both for local and export purposes.
“Furthermore, the state government is encouraging investors to venture into the processing of coconut into edible coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut water and coconut flour or non-edible processing of coconut into coconut shell charcoal, coconut coir fibre and peat. This is to ensure the full utilisation of coconut.
“On the non-edible processing, a project/investment document for the establishment of coconut husk processing factory for the production of coconut coir fibre which is used to make jute bags, slippers, mats and Coco peat used in hydroponics has been developed.
“With already established market both local and international, this agri-business is highly lucrative and hence, the state government is calling on investors to partner in this regard.”
The commissioner said the 300 seedlings given to OAU to be established on 1.5 hectares of land, was one of many collaborations, citing other institutions who had benefited from the initiative to include Olabisi Onabanjo University who received 100 seedlings in 2019.
“University of Lagos received 200 coconut seedlings to be planted at the Lagoon Front and many more.
“It is important to note that the collaboration with these institutions is to encourage research on the coconut value chain and provide improved products and by-products for investors and consumers,” Mr Olusanya said.
She thanked the OAU teaching and research farm for its interest in developing the value chain and looked forward to more positive collaborations.
Receiving the 300 seedlings on behalf of the management of the institution, Jacob Adeyeye, lauded the collaboration, saying that it aimed to encourage production and research into the coconut value chain.
Mr Adeyeye said the seedlings would be used in engaging the students of the Faculty of Agriculture on the economic and environmental potentials of the coconut value chain.
He noted that the seedlings would be planted on a new plantation of 1.5 hectares to replace and support the old plantation.
“There is a variant of garri produced by the university called “Fortified Garri” which is produced with coconut milk, lemon grass and cassava. But, due to the non-productivity of the aged plantation, the production of the fortified garri has been suspended.
“With the new plantation in place, programmes like this can be continued sustainably and developed and we hope to expand the collaboration with Lagos State on coconut development to a wider scope.
“This coconut plantation will add to the rich base of the programme and enable researchers with a hands-on approach to research into the crop,” he said.
Mr Adeyeye noted that there was a need to harness the full potentials offered by the coconut value chain, saying that the lack of adequate plantations should be addressed.
“One of the aims of collaborating with the LASCODA is to see how the youth in the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) can expand the scope of the resource base of coconut. (NAN)
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