The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajia Aisha Abubakar at the inauguration of the Kenaf Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria in her office on Tuesday in Abuja disclosed that Nigeria spent about $20 million (about N4 billon) on importation of jute bags in 2015.
She said the importation was in spite of the countryâ€™s potential of becoming a net exporter of jute bags and other derivatives of kenaf. Kenaf is an herbaceous plant with a wide range of food and non-food derivatives, which grows annually or biennially.
The minister said that the inability of the country to fully harness the potential of this very important commodity is disturbing.
Countries like India, Bangladesh, China, Malaysia and others, which understand the significance of the commodity to the development of their economies, are investing massively and reaping returns worth billions of dollars.
The simple fact that kenaf can be grown in commercial quantity in over 20 states of Nigeria, including the FCT, explains why the Federal Government is keen on developing the commodity. Kenaf has given them a window of opportunity in their quest for economic diversification.
Investment in kenaf would not only create millions of jobs for their teeming unemployed youth, but would also enhance the standard of living for all stakeholders in the commodity value chain.
The minister noted that translating the huge potential of kenaf into economic benefits was a task that all stakeholders must rise up to.
Abubakar called for the right mechanism to be put in place to attract investment at the upstream and downstream sectors of the commodity.
Toward this, Abubakar urged the association to mobilize stakeholders across the kenaf value chain, and assured them of the Federal Governmentâ€™s support.
The President of KEPPMAN, Hassan Abubakar, said that kenaf cultivation was relatively young in the country, having started about eight years ago. The plant had been cultivated for more than four millennia in Asia and it is a large contributor to Gross Domestic Product. KEPPMAN members are capable of growing the plant on a large scale across the country with a maturity period of five months.
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