Agribusiness

Castor oil has potential of generating N25bn for Nigeria, says FG official

Emmanuel Kehinde, Ilorin

Access Bank
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Ernest Umakhihe, has said that castor oil has the potential of generating about N25 billion annually for Nigeria if properly harnessed.
Umakhihe who was represented by a Deputy Direcror in the Ministry, Mr Bernard Ukattah made the disclosure on Wednesday at a One-Day Stakeholders’ Summit on Castor Oil in Ilorin.
He said the oil could also provide livelihood for between 300,000 to 500,000 families, but the potentials have not been harnessed, hence, the reason for the summit.
”We must as a matter of urgency, diversify our economy away from oil and reduce the current drain on our foreign reserve from food importation.
”We have been doing this by expanding new income sources from exports of agricultural produces/products, such as castor.
”The essence of our gathering today is to create awareness on the socio-economic benefits accruable from the Castor Value Chain and give effect to the successful implementation of the value chain.
”We also want to design and present a feasible and sustainable model of the Castor Value chain agenda for implementation and fashion out a sustainable processing culture through processing clusters,” Dr Umakhihe said.
He added that castor is an important oil seed crop with great utilisation value in pharmaceutical and agricultural sectors.
”The seed contains between 40 to 60 percent oil and it’s oil is unique among vegetable oils because the oil is the only commercial source of a hydroxylated fatty acid.
”The demand for castor oil has kept increasing in the international market and Nigeria is ranked 5th, currently producing about 20,000mt,” Umakhihe said.
The permanent secretary however noted that to transform agriculture, it must be taken out of the political realm and treated with the seriousness it deserves.
Dr Aliu Kabir, State Coordinator, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said Kwara is blessed to be one of the states that can grow castor in Nigeria.
He said the summit couldn’t have come at a better time because it would not only allow for brainstorming on the achievements recorded already, but to project on how to harness the potentials embedded in castor oil.
Okekunle Akintunde, Member, Board of Trustees, Castor oil Growers and Processors Association of Nigeria said castor is a crop that can change the economic status of the country if well utilised.
”It is very important to sensitise our farmers and other stakeholders on the importance of castor in Nigeria, because we should consider castor for economic growth.
”This is because it is an international traded commodity that is needed by all countries of the world, but unfortunately, it cannot be grown in all countries.
”So, we are lucky in Nigeria that being a tropical crop, it can be grown in any part of the country.
”Therefore it is important that we utilise the potentials therein as a means of diversification of the economy,” Akintunde said.
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