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Attaining full-scale groundnut production

Peanut Market News November 18, 2019

Attaining full-scale groundnut production

In a bid to improve on groundnut production value chain, the National Groundnut Producers Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NGROPPMAN) has revealed plans to boost groundnut production to 17.5 million metric tonnes by the end of 2025. Taiwo Hassan reports

Nigeria produces 41 per cent of the total groundnut in West Africa. Besides, the groundnut pyramids used to be conspicuous in Kano city of Kano State (northern Nigeria).

The huge piles of sacks that tapered to a point higher than most of the buildings, were a symbol of northern Nigeria’s abundance in an important cash crop.

But today, the dusty yards where the groundnut marketing board stock- piled farmer’s harvest lie mostly empty and have been occupied by buildings.

The history of groundnut in Nigeria dates back to 1912, when most farmers were encouraged by high economic returns from groundnut. The marketing of the crop was well organised at that period.

At the end of each production season, agents moved to various parts of the region to purchase the produce while some farmers preferred to carry their produce by themselves to Kano city, where it was sold at a price fixed by the marketing board. The produce was collected from strategic collection centers and then transported to the port of Lagos by train.

Groundnut production decline

However, groundnut production in Kano and neighboring states has declined significantly. For instance, the total groundnut production up to 1973 used to be more than 1.6 million tonnes, which has come down to less than 0.7 million tonnes in the mid 80’s.

Both farmers and traders shifted to other agricultural (e.g. cowpea, sorghum, millet) and horticultural crops. This decline also affected industries, which used groundnut as raw material. Some even closed down or shifted to other oil seeds.

Reasons

Several factors led to the rapid decline in groundnut production in Nigeria. The major causes were drought, rosette virus, and general neglect of agriculture due to oil boom, lack of organized input and marketing and dissolution of groundnut marketing boards.

There have been adverse changes in rainfall pattern in the last 30 years. Average annual rainfall has reduced drastically from 800 mm to 600 mm and consequently the length of the growing season has become shorter (from 4 to 3 months).

Breakdown shows that drought spells have become more frequent than ever before. This undoubtedly has led to the failure of groundnut, which requires more than 4 months with the currently available cultivars to reach maturity. Drought has also been associated with outbreaks of diseases and insect pests such as aphids. Aphids are carriers of the groundnut rosette virus, which is a devastating disease. It wipes out the entire crop during epidemic outbreak.

For example, in 1975, an epidemic of rosette virus destroyed nearly three quarters of a million hectares of the crop in Nigeria and wiped out regional trade worth estimated at $250 million.

Subsequent epidemics in 1983, 1985 and 1988 had a major impact on farmers’ decisions. Many of the farmers who suffered financial ruin have stuck to other crops such as cowpea, sorghum and pearl millet.

Experiments

As a consequence, groundnut production has not yet returned to the pre-1970 levels of 1.8 million tonnes. Research on fertilizer use in northern Nigeria began in 1925. Experiments have shown that groundnuts respond to added superphosphate. Seed for planting was freely distributed to growers and cash subsidy was later introduced. This encouraged farmers to use high quality seeds and fertilizer.

Boost

However, following the introduction and application of suitable fertilizer, the country’s groundnut production has been steadily since the farmers were taught on the need to use high quality seeds which automatically buoys increased in volume of production.

To consolidate the country’s groundnut production and value chain, National Groundnut Producers Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NGROPPMAN) believes that attaining groundnut production target of 17.5 million metric tonnes by the end of 2025 from its present level can be achieved.

President of NGROPPMAN, Aimu Foni, told newsmen after the conclusion of a stakeholders’ meeting in Abuja that plans were already underway.

He said that the 17.5 million metric tonnes projected was part of the groundnut draft policy, being reviewed by important stakeholders.

Foni stressed that the policy would improve the production of groundnut and help reposition other value chains when adopted by the stakeholders and supported by the Federal Executive Council.

“The objective of the draft policy, which is still under review, is to improve groundnut production and make it a major source of revenue generation for the government.

“The policy when approved will further tackle the problem of training and extension services, critical to agricultural development. Also, the document will help with risk management, marketing as well as competitiveness to ensure robust domestic consumption and high-quality export,” he said.

‘Next level’ mantra

The Secretary-General of the association, Adeniyi Adebayo, said the stakeholders were eager to take groundnut production to the next level.

He said, “We met to see how to contribute meaningfully to the new groundnut policy. As you know, we are into production, processing, and marketing as a sub-sector and the draft policy is focused on these areas.

“In terms of production, it dwells on how the lives of groundnut farmers will be improved. Most times when there is excess production, farmers are often left to bear their losses as they sell their produce at giveaway prices.”

Adebayo expressed hope that when adopted by stakeholders and sent by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to FEC, it would be approved.

Last line

With the groundnut draft policy review underway, agric stakeholders believe seed is basic to agriculture and makes a major contribution to agricultural productivity. Unless groundnut seed is available in the right place, at the right time, in adequate quantities and quality at affordable prices, it will be difficult to meet the target.

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