The Lagos State Government has handed over 300 coconut seedlings to the Teaching and Research Farm, Faculty of Agriculture, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in Ile-Ife to co-establish a 1.5 hectare coconut plantation to bridge the damage gap for the commodity in the state.
According to the Government, the initiative is in response to the increase in demand for coconut products by 500 per cent in the last five years.
State Commissioner for Agriculture, Abisola Olusanya, handed over the seedlings to a representative from the institution at the Lagos Farm Centre, Oko Oba, Agege, on Wednesday.
Olusanya explained that the partnership was part of the state’s ongoing coconut development initiative aimed at promoting and expanding the coconut value chain in the country.
In her words, “This is primarily due to the report by World Atlas that there is an increase in the demand for coconut products by 500 per cent in the past five years, which led to the discussion on ways by which the Lagos State Government and Nigeria at large can benefit from this global market.
“In order to benefit from this market, there is a need to create more awareness and promote the production, processing and utilisation of coconut. This will encourage and engage more people to take advantage of this global opportunity” Olusanya added.
Represented by the General Manager, Lagos State Coconut Development Authority (LASCODA) Dapo Olakulehi, the Commissioner assured of government’s commitment to continue to collaborate with both private and public institutions to promote coconut research and development.
Olusanya also revealed that the University of Lagos had earlier received 200 coconut seedlings to be planted at the Lagoon Front among other places adding that Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) got 100 seedlings in 2019.
She said “It is important to note that the collaboration with these institutions is to encourage research on the coconut value chain and provide improved products and by-products for investors and consumers,”
The commissioner, however, lauded the OAU teaching and research farm for showing interest in developing the value chain while seeking for more positive collaborations with the institution.
On his part, Jacob Adeyeye, who received the seedlings on behalf of the management of the institution, said that the collaboration was aimed to encourage production and research in the coconut value chain.
Adeyeye said, “There is a variant of garri produced by the university called “Fortified Garri” which is produced with coconut milk, lemon grass and cassava. But, due to the non-productivity of the aged plantation, the production of the fortified garri has been suspended.
“With the new plantation in place, programmes like this can be continued sustainably and developed and we hope to expand the collaboration with Lagos State on coconut development to a wider scope.
“This coconut plantation will add to the rich base of the programme and enable researchers with a hands-on approach to research into the crop,” he added.
Adeyeye ,therefore, averred that the seedlings will be used to engage students of the Faculty of Agriculture on the economic and environmental potentials embedded in the coconut value chain.