A coconut farmer, Chief Sanjaav Tandon, has called on the Federal Government to utilise the huge potential in coconut value chain to earn more foreign exchange for the country.
Tandon told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos that Nigeria has all it takes to become a big producer of coconut in Africa and the World.
He said that Nigeria has very fertile land, markets and huge human resources needed in the sector.
According to him, Nigeria’s land is very good for coconut plantation and up till now, Nigeria has not utilised the resources properly. Coconut can be planted in more than 22 states but no commitment on the part of the government.
“I have been living in Nigeria for 25 years now; basically, I am from India and I have my coconut farm back there.
“In India, coconut is a very sacred fruit; you have to pray to the coconut just as much importance is placed on Kolanut in Nigeria. Indian places a lot of value on coconut.
“Coconut is a very important plant; it has a lot of tremendous scope of business. Government should place more importance on it because the land is fertile, the business opportunities are there.
Tandon said that it is only for the country to grow, process and export coconut, thereby the country’s GDP would grow.
“Nigerian government should see from that angle that coconut is a tree of life. Your standard and growth will depend on how many coconut trees you plant in your farm.
“The more coconut trees in your farm, the bigger and richer you are and the more , the export opportunities are available to your country.
“You can have a minimum of 400 trees to 500 trees on your plantation. Farmers can even go as high as 1,000 trees to 10,000 trees. Coconut farming is a great business; Nigerians need to tap into it and benefit from it. It is a long-term-business plan,” he said.
Tandon, a former Assistant Governor, Rotary Club of Eko Atlantic, Lagos, also urged the government to create more awareness to improve its production saying that the demand for the crop continues to increase globally.
“Coconut has tremendous uses right from the coconut water, the coconut oil, chips, flakes, nuts, coconut paste and even the husk used for producing carpets, doormats and brushes.
“Nigeria’s land is very good for the coconut plantation and up till now Nigeria has not utilised the resources properly.
“If you start the coconut business, the whole world is looking for coconut water and coconut oil which Nigeria can produce.
He said that as Nigeria’s economy is going through a very tough time with the exchange rate of the dollar going for over N600.00 with a prediction that it may reach N700.00, Nigeria should have a rethink.
“If you have your coconut plantation and you export them, you will earn foreign exchange. You are sure that revenue is coming to you only and your future survival based on this coconut business for years to coming is assured.
“Through coconut alone, Nigeria can generate billions of dollars yearly if properly harnessed,” he said.
Tandon urged the government to adopt coconut for aesthetic use on road side and beautification of gardens and parks as it was being done in other developed countries.
“Aesthetic value is another area the government needs to look at. Anybody coming to your country will see the beauty of coconut and know that you are a coconut-producing state. They will see how beautiful your country is.
“Nigeria should consider coconut as a future revenue source and the Lagos State Government is doing wonderfully well in this area and I hope they will be very successful in the rehabilitation of the value chain,’’ he said.
He urged the Ministry of Education in Lagos State to include coconut education in its curriculum to attract youths to the sector.