Tuesday, February 7, 2023

NEPC trains farmers, processors to boost potato, shea butter export

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The Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC, says it has trained no fewer than one million farmers and processors to boost potato and Shea butter export from Plateau and beyond.

NEPC North-Central Zonal Coordinator Samson Idowu said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Jos.

Mr Idowu told NAN that the training which started at the beginning of the year, was mainly for women and youth.

The zonal coordinator said that the beneficiaries were trained on how to boost production and process the produce into exportable forms.

He said that potato is produced in large quantity in Plateau but much of it ends on dining table because of lack of export.

He emphasised that unless raw produce were processed into exportable products, they cannot form tangible exports.

Mr Idowu stated that the council was working with farmers, processors  and exporters to ensure that potato becomes one of Nigeria’s major non-oil export.

“Apart from that, we also train the beneficiaries on shea butter production.

“The global value of a Shea butter now is around 6.8 billion dollars as of this year, and is expected to rise by seven per cent annually in the next 10 years.

“So you cannot just stay aloof and be watching other countries take advantage of the opportunity and rake in millions of dollars.

“We have Shea trees in 21 states, including Plateau, where it can be picked and processed.

“Shea tree at moment grows in the wild but we are interested in domesticating it.

“And until we start planting it like cashew trees and acha (a variety of rice), we cannot harness its huge economy potential,” he stated.

The zonal coordinator revealed that the council was working with relevant institution to domesticate Shea trees to start fruiting within 18 months such as the improved variety of cashew.

Mr Idowu told NAN that they were also working with farmers to increase the production of rice, noting that there was huge gap between its production and consumption.

According to him, the price of local rice was still very high in spite of the ban on the importation of rice.

“And we’re working seriously to increase the production of rice, bring down the price and make it available at affordable cost.

“So that we can have enough for local consumption and able to export since we have Africa Free Trade Agreement Area,” he said.

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