The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono said it has become  imperative for Nigeria to establish its own jute bag industries to meet international best practices for the export of Cocoa and sundry agricultural produce. He added that the production of the jute bags in Nigeria will increase foreign earnings, healthy preservation and certification of the cocoa crop. 

Nanono said that the ministry would seek collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning in ensuring that appropriate policy measures and counterpart funding were put in place to fast track the setting up of jute bag factories across the nation as well as commence the cultivation of Kenaf, which can grow in any part of the country and happens to be the raw material for the production of jute bags. 

The Minister made this known during a courtesy visit by the Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN) on Thursday 18th February, 2021 in the Ministry’s Conference Hall, Abuja.

Nanono noted that ‘’ cocoa is one of the commodities being promoted by the present administration in its drive to diversify the economy. The ministry is eager to support the farmers with the distribution of free agricultural inputs and training to enhance the capacity of cocoa farmers in the country’’.

He informed that ‘’ the ministry recently rolled out disease resistant and early yielding seedlings developed by the Cocoa Research Institute, Ibadan which starts yielding within 30 months of cultivation. These seedlings with other inputs were distributed to farmers in major cocoa producing states where 300,000` cartoons of ultimax – plus fungicides, Hydrocarbon jute bags, collapsible driers, cocoa pods and more were shared to enhance the capacity of cocoa farmers.

The minister assured that the ministry will continue to support and collaborate with the Association to boost the cocoa value chain sub sector towards increasing production, creating more jobs and generating revenue for the country.

In his welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe  said that  ‘’ the agricultural policy put in place by the Present Government is poised to build an agribusiness ecosystem that will solve the challenges in the agricultural sector in partnership  with the state governments to achieve food security ,export substitution, job creation and economic diversification.  Cocoa has been one of the major foreign exchange earners in Nigeria apart from crude oil’’, he said. 

In his remarks, the National President of Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN), Alhaji Mufutau Abolarinwa appealed for the establishment of a special credit guarantee scheme for the cocoa farmers in Nigeria for the development and increase in cocoa production. He added that grants/subvention from relevant agencies like Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) and others will enable CAN to have access to cocoa pods, inputs and equipment needed for increase in cocoa production in Nigeria.

Abolarinwa stated that ‘’ the association has successfully organized workshops and seminars in collaboration with CRIN, FMARD and the state ministries across the cocoa producing states with the aim of improving the quality of cocoa for export and to comply with the European Union regulations on pesticide maximum residue ‘’

Ezeaja Ikemefuna

Chief Information Officer

For: Director, Information (FMARD)