Daniel Agbolade, Ibadan
Executive Director, Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Ibadan, Mr. James Adediran, has called for more interest in Kenaf production in order to save the country several billions of naira spent to import jute bags.
He said with many products derivable from Kenaf, it is of high value for the import substitution target of Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of Federal Government.
Represented by Deputy Director of the Institute, Mr. Olaide Saka, Adediran while declaring open the training programme on Kenaf/Jute value chain sponsored by House of Representatives Committee on Agricultural Research Institutes, Colleges of Agriculture and Allied Institutions, in Ibadan, said the use of synthetic bags has been banned in the packaging of agricultural produce meant for export, noting that the huge amount spent in importing jute bags is uncalled for with Nigeria richly blessed in production of Kenaf.
According to him, with Federal Government focusing on the agricultural sector to diversify the nation's economy and generate employment for the youth, the crop sub-sector is endowed with a lot of enterprises with Kenaf as a fibre crop of many utilisation potentials.
He said, "Nigeria spends billions of naira annually in importing jute bags from India and Bangladesh. In 2015, report had it that Nigeria spent N5.6billion importing jute bags whereas the country is naturally endowed for cultivation of Kenaf which is the major raw material in the production of these bags.
"In addition, research in IAR&T has shown that there is virtually no part of the crop that is not useful. The core is used in bioremediation of oil-polluted soil; the fibre is used in production of jute bag, POP ceiling, handbags, shoes and other handicrafts. Also, the seed is rich in oil of nutritional importance as it is low in cholesterol while the cake from the oil extraction is a useful material in livestock feed in addition to the leaves. Its potentials in employment generation and income generation are waiting to be explored."
While lauding House of Representatives Committee for its interest in empowering the youth and other stakeholders for employment and meaningful contribution to the agricultural industry, he disclosed that the Institute has developed high yielding Kenaf varieties, such as Ifeken D1-1400, Ifeken 400, in addition with complementary agronomic and utilisation technologies.
Coordinator of the training, Mr. Dotun Ogunniyan, who charged the 60 participants drawn from all the states in South West, to make the best use of the training, said they will be provided by starter pack for take-off and will be monitored for two years.
Ogunniyan who is Head of Department, Kenaf/Jute sector in the Institute, added that the potentials derivable from the crop cannot be underestimated, stating that participants should count themselves lucky to be part of the training designed to enrich them on strategy to make business out of Kenaf production.