The Federal Government on Thursday said it was putting necessary mechanism in place to reposition the cowpea (beans) sub-sector for better performance at both local and international markets.
The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajia Aisha Abubakar, stated this while inaugurating executives of the Federation of Cowpea (Beans) Farmers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (FECOFAPMAN) in Abuja.
Abubakar said that government’s commitment in that direction was driven by the recent rejection of the country’s beans exports by the European Union (EU).
It would be recalled that the EU took the action about a year ago after the rejected beans were found to contain unacceptable level of dichlorvos pesticide.
The minister stated that promoting sustainable development of cowpea value chain was not only appropriate but timely now that the Federal Government was making efforts to avoid a recurrence.
Abubakar also said that the cowpea (beans) subsector offered great investment opportunities that could guarantee sustained earnings and income for both individuals and government.
According to her, the sector also offers unprecedented opportunity of contributing positively to the growth of the nation’s gross Domestic Products (GDP) through job and wealth creation.
“Available statistics show that annual cowpea production in West and Central Africa in the last decades has averaged 4.5 million tonnes on 7.8 million hectares.
“This accounts for 69 per cent of the world’s production with Nigeria producing 2.1 million metric tonnes per annum ahead of Niger and Mali with potentials for increase in output,’’ she said.
Abubakar said that cowpea had high potential for use as an industrial crop, but was faced by many constraints such as lack of reliable statistics on production, low quality of raw materials.
She said that inauguration of the association was part of government’s efforts to reposition the sector for better performance.
The minister, therefore, urged FECOFAPMAN to coordinate the activities of cowpea (beans) stakeholders in the country for effective operation.
She also enjoined the body to work closely with relevant stakeholders to ensure that all needed government policies and programmes aimed at developing the sector were implemented.
The President of the association, Mr Muhammed Shitu, called on the Federal Government to ensure adequate quality control measures for beans exports.
Shitu said except that was done the country’s beans exports, which are expected to fetch over 500 billion dollars in revenue by 2017, would continue to suffer rejection abroad.
The FECOFAPMAN president sought the assistance of the ministry in the development of a cowpea value chain as being done for other staple commodities like rice and cassava.
He also called for support in the areas of research and development to relevant research institutes for improved seeds and acceptable agro-chemicals for cowpea farming, among other requests.(NAN)