Nigeria’s economy has been experiencing a recession with the fortunes of the most populated black nation tipping to the wand of a dwindling global oil price. One only wonders how a nation that began a radical economic journey through agriculture didn’t expand to a world power but choose to down tool to the potentials of an oil boom. But it is not too late to tap into the abundant resources that Mother Nature has blessed the nation with.
A nation needs to build on its viable revenue and employment sources with enormous opportunities. One striking aspect of the economically viable and realistic agricultural produce is the coconut. Little is known about the wonder crop. Apart from its enormous potentials as a source of raw material, every part of the coconut is virtually of economic value.
Does Nigeria have any potentials in making coconut a major source of revenue and foreign exchange? Desmond Majekodunmi, astute environmental activist says “Yes, we can be far more competitive than Thailand. This can be a silver lining, if we can just start producing coconut products. Other countries have oil revenue, but they use that revenue to develop this type of thing. You can imagine how far we could have gone if we had taken that step”.
He spoke recently on the radio programme, ‘The Green Hour’ on ‘Nigeria Info’(99.3 Fm), Lagos, where he is a regular resource person. Desmond is no doubt, a pride of the nation as he has become an institution on environment matters. He spoke further on the potentials of ‘The Tree of Life’, to boost agricultural production as one of the ways to get out of economic recession.
“It could be very embarrassing to walk into a Nigerian super market to find coconut water and other coconut products from other countries, considering the abundance of coconut trees especially along the coast of West Africa.” According to the environmentalist, “Coconut is the tree of life. In some countries such as the Phillipines, the coconut tree is used for so many things. We are all familiar with coconut water. It is indeed the fastest growing health drink across the world. Coconut is a source of protein with zero cholesterol for cooking coconut rice for example. It can also be used in the cosmetics industry. The best charcoal you can get is from the coconut tree. The product of the coconut tree is used in polishing wooden floors.
Apart from the proven medicinal qualities of the roots of the coconut tree, Majekodunmi added, “ The roots holds the sand. People wonder how this plant survives in marshy lands. Fortunately they can stand on salt water. It gets its sweet water there-from’ .
Luckily for the coconut, it has long shelf life. The products can be stored and taken to distant places, such that food from Africa, gets to other parts of the world and Africans in the diaspora, can avail themselves of food peculiar to their region, this, no doubt will go a long way in the physiological make up of the African. Majekodunmi said. “If you look around today, you will find that the greatest athletes across the world are of African descent’.