The National Coffee and Tea Association of Nigeria (NACOFTAN) says farmers are resuscitating coffee production through improved seeds and seedlings from the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), Ibadan.
Alhaji Salihu Imam, Oyo State Chairman of the Association, made the remark in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Ibadan.
He said that funding massive coffee production for the next five years could turn the cash crop into huge foreign exchange earner which Nigeria needed desperately.
Imam described coffee as an important economic tree, highly priced in the world market and three times more valuable than cocoa.
He expressed dissatisfaction that there had been total neglect of the commodity for so long as farmers boycotted its production due to perceived lack of buyers.
“You will see that these days, great grand coffee trees on the farms are neglected.
“We are now resuscitating coffee through improved seeds and seedlings from CRIN, to tap into its potentialities and prevent the tree from going into extinction.
“Commercial banks are currently desperately looking for coffee in very huge quantities for export, and its low local production cannot meet demands.
“So, there’s need for the country to tap into its potential by supporting the farmers adequately,” he said.
Imam noted that the association had opened up discussions with banks who showed interest and approached farmers for export of coffee beans.
He advised the banks to sponsor/finance coffee production massively, to get enough for local industries and also for export trade.
“We have many farmers as out growers for this purpose.
“We have also approached Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) to include coffee as one of its commodities for projection/assistance.
“The association will soon organise training programmes statewide for coffee farmers, in conjunction with CRIN and NEPC, to boost knowledge and production capacity.
“We strongly appeal to the Federal Government and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to give adequate attention to coffee propagation.
“It is capable of earning foreign exchange for Nigeria if well-harnessed,’’ Imam said.
He described the commodity as the most valuable crop in international market.
“As soon as we stabilise production of coffee, we hope to embark on massive training on value addition and processing.
“We hope to do this through the involvement of the youths,” he said.
According to him, Oyo State is one of the few states in Nigeria where coffee is grown around Ibarapa and Afijio areas of the state.
Imam noted that the great potential in coffee production had led to an increase in the membership of the association in the state.
“We have established group farms in Ibarapa to lead and encourage farmers to go into production of the crop.
“We are very ready to work with the government and other agricultural stakeholders to achieve our goal, and make coffee production a huge foreign exchange earner in Nigeria,” Imam said. (NAN)