Lack of attention from policy makers and absence of improved seedlings have been identified as the major obstacle to large scale cultivation, as well as export of banana in Nigeria.
A banana farmer in Oyo State, Alhaji Raji Ahmad, told our Agric Editor that such problems contributed to the inability of the country to engage in large scale export of the produce.
This, Alhaji Ahmad said, was ripping the country of millions of dollars annually.
Daily Trust reports that banana is largely produced in the southern states as well as Plateau, Benue and Kogi in the North Central.
Alhaji Ahmad said relevant statistics showed that the country was the fourth largest producer in Sub-Saharan Africa, behind East African countries of Uganda and Rwanda and Ghana in West Africa.
He said Cameroon which was ranked fifth was doing well in the exportation of the produce than any other country in Africa.
Daniel Workman, founder of World’s Top Exports (WTEx), recently published an article listing the 15 top banana exporting countries in 2018.
Nigeria is conspicuously missing in the list with Cameroon and Cote d’Ivore the only African countries that made the list. (See table above)
Others are Dominican Republic: $365.5m (2.7 per cent), Honduras: $318.1m (2.3 per cent), Panama: $313.8m (2.3 per cent), Mexico: $259m (1.9 per cent), Cameroon: $244.1m (1.8 per cent), Germany: $236.1m (1.7 per cent) and Cote d’Ivore: $173.7m (1.3 per cent).
Workman said worldwide banana exports totaled an estimated $13.6bn in 2018, up by an average 22.5 per cent for all banana shippers over the five-year period, starting in 2014 when banana shipments were valued at $11.1bn.
He said the 15 countries shipped 88.8 per cent of global banana exports in 2018 by value.
Among the countries, he said the fastest growing banana exporters since 2014 were Panama (up 220.5 per cent), Cameroon (up 216.7 per cent), Netherlands (up 124.7 per cent) and Guatemala (up 103.8 per cent).
Experts believe that if Cameroon that is reportedly producing less than Nigeria is doing well in the export of the produce, then Nigeria should put things in place and start making money from the export.
Meanwhile, another banana farmer in Ondo State, Mr. Ayodele Ojo, who at present has about 20 hectares of banana and plantain in Ekiti State, appealed to the Federal Government to include banana in their series of intervention programmes for farm crops to encourage their growth in the country.
Mr. Ojo who is also the National Vice Chairman of Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN), noted that most banana farmers had no money to expand their farms or even get quality and improved seeds that would guarantee export of the produce.
He said banana was being used in the production of biscuits by companies in Nigeria and that some foreign companies in Kenya and Russia were also demanding for it in flour form because it was used in the treatment of diabetes and other ailments.
“I am working with some agencies in Kenya and Russia and we are in discussion to see how the business will work,” he said, adding that unless banana farmers were assisted with funds and other inputs, the country might not be able to be actively involved in the export of the produce.
Another farmer, a retired soldier, Mr. Vincent Ologun, said banana farmers in the country had been relegated to the background, adding that with the current level of attention from government, there was no way the farmers could produce enough for export.
Mr. Ologun, whose banana farm is in Ipele near Owo, Ondo State, also called on government to find a lasting solution to the farmers-herders crisis.
Source: Daily Trust