Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 5 August 2016 | 2,187 times
The Abia State chapter of National Banana and Plantain Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NBPAN) has called for proper attention to be given to the growing of banana and plantain as a measure to diversify and boost Nigeria's ailing economy.
The chapter also hinted of its plan to procure 100 hectares of land for commercial production of banana and plantain for local markets and export.
Speaking in an interview with newsmen in Umuahia, the Abia State Chairman of NBPAN, Dr. Okezie Abarikwu, said the association, if given adequate assistance and attention, is ready to contribute its quota to the quest to diversify and revive Nigeria's economy by embarking on massive production of the crops which could be processed into 26 different products.
Said Abarikwu: "If you go to West Indies, they don't have anything except banana and plantain as well as tourism. That is what is sustaining their economy. Banana and plantain contain up to 26 products which, when properly harnessed, can be use to boost the nation's economy.
"Take for instance, a bunch of plantain is sold for up to N1, 500. Assuming you borrowed money to start the business, in a minimum of nine months, it will start yielding. Within that same year, you will be able to repay your loan, have enough money for next year's farming."
He assured that the association would help to promote the growing and marketing of banana and plantain nationwide, just as he raised the hopes of prospective and potential banana and plantain growers by informing them that a new era has opened for farmers who cultivate the crops as the seasons of waste were over.
Abarikwu expressed hope that the coming together of the farmers and traders of the crops would ensure that issues affecting cultivation and marketing of banana and plantain would receive adequate attention.
The NBPAN chairman lamented that inadequate land and ignorance have constituted impediments to banana and plantain growing in the South East geo-political zone and consequently, have deprived Ndigbo of the benefits derivable from banana and plantain business, unlike what is obtainable in the South-West.
Expressing his views on how NBPAN could boost the nation's economy, the Abia State Public Relations Officer of the association, Chief Grant Obinwa Nwogu, said the group was mobilizing funds to acquire about 100 acres of land for members to jointly plant the crops solely for commercial purposes.
"By the time we begin to produce the varieties of banana and plantain-related products in large quantity, people will come to buy and we can export it to other parts of the country and beyond. We have the manpower, the calibre of people and professionals in the field. Our association has the capacity to achieve it," Nwogu said
He disclosed that Abia State Government has promised to give the association a piece of land, adding that when the land is provided, members would then have a stake in the banana and plantain business.
“The Federal Government is also interested in the association and we are convinced that they will assist in making our dream of sustaining the economy of Nigeria through banana and plantain business a reality,” he said.
•Photo shows NBPAN Abia Chairman, Dr. Okezie Abarikwu.
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