Prof. Veronica Obatolu, the Executive Director, Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Ibadan, says Kenaf can save Nigeria the huge foreign exchange used for to importation to produce paper bags.
Obatolu said Kenaf crop had proven potential for import substitution in the country’s packaging industry.
She described Kenaf as a multipurpose crop with numerous potential could be used to reposition the economy of Nigeria through diverse uses.
She said that bast and core fibres of the crop had been identified as good fibre source for paper production, building, automobile, pharmaceutical and numerous foods, feed industries.
Obatolu said that it had been used to improve the economy of farmers in some developed and developing countries including U.S., Indonesia, Bangladesh, India and Malaysia.
She said that with the renewed interest of the Federal Government in the crop, its popularity among farmers, processors, end-users, other stakeholders, there was traffic in the enterprise of Kenaf value chain.
She therefore underscored the need for corresponding production of quality Kenaf seeds to sustain supply of its raw materials.
Obatolu that IAR&T had national mandate on improvement of genetic, agronomic potentials of Kenaf as well as techniques for processing the produce into raw materials for onward transformation.
“Agricultural produce from Nigeria such as cotton, groundnuts, cocoa, have sometimes been rejected at the terminal markets primarily because of the use of improper packaging materials.
“Hence, for any agricultural export to thrive, fibre crop based industries must be active and strong, this should be taken as an indication of greater prospects for Kenaf production both now and in future,” she said.
The South-West Regional Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Joseph Ogunwale said that Kenaf was capable of contributing to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
Ogunwale said that economically, the crop could generate twice the revenue generated by the country from cocoa going by its wide range of usage.
He said that the Federal Government decided to promote the crop’s production and its use because of its numerous potential.
Ogunwale urged the farmers to take good advantage of the training by engaging in more production of Kenaf in the country.
He commended IAR&T for promoting the production of Kenaf in the country, while urging them to increase their effort in the production.
Also, the Programme Manager, Oyo State Agricultural Development Programme, Mrs Fadekemi Akande, advised the farmers to ensure they planted the Kenaf seeds to improve its production and achieve the goal of the organisers.
Akande thanked IAR&T and the Federal Government for supporting the farmers and organising the training.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that no fewer than 100 farmers from Osun and Oyo states, who participated in the training, were given bags of Kenaf seeds free by IAR&T.
Edited by Grace Yussuf