The Federal Government has earmarked N263 million to boost the production and export of Gum Arabic as the country earned more than $43 million from the export of the commodity in 2016.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, confirmed this when he briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), which was presided over by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
He said gum Arabic seedlings would be produced locally by a Research Institute in Benin, for distribution to farmers, particularly in the northern part of the country where gum arabic is being produced in large quantity.
“We are intensifying production, especially in states like Yobe and Borno, which have been devastated by war.
“These seedlings will be produced at a cost of about N263 million by our own institute in Benin to provide seedlings for farmers.
“Last year we earned $43 million from gum Arabic and now we are trying to increase the production and strengthen the capacity of Nigeria to export gum Arabic,’’ he said.
The minister disclosed that the Council also approved the distribution of cassava stems to farmers in 21 states in the southern part of the country, as well as Kano state in the north.
According to him, the cassava stems, which will be developed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Ibadan and the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, Abia state, will strengthen and intensify cassava production in the country.
Mr. Ogbeh dismissed the recent reported importation of garri from India, describing it as “quite interesting’’.
“While we are increasing cassava production we heard they are importing garri from India, Its sounds quite interesting, we do know that we are the biggest producer of cassava in the world, the biggest producer of yam.
“Maybe it was a matter of how it was packaged that attracted the importers but I don’t see any market for them,’’ he added.
Mr. Ogbeh announced that Nigeria would continue to export cassava to China to generate more foreign exchange earnings for the country.