Following the drive for high non-oil exports, the country has exported 1,983 containers of Roselle hibiscus flowers (Zobo) to Mexico alone, thereby generating $35 million within a short time in 2017.
The Coordinating Director, Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service, NAQS, Dr Vincent Isegbe, disclosed this in a chat, where he said farmers and other investors were yet to tap into this ‘goldmine’ of hibiscus business in the country due to high demand from Europe, Asia and America.
According to him, farmers of Roselle hibiscus flowers in Jigawa had the highest export in 2017, because they are the largest producers of the commodity.
He said: “In the last one year there has been an increase in exports of agricultural commodities. Hibiscus alone in one country, Mexico, generated $35 million in nine months.
“In 2016, the country generated more than $20 million, and that is just one commodity. In the last one year we have done what we call Export Improvement Initiative, EII, for so many commodities.
“That means we are bringing those commodities that were lying low to ensure that they are properly positioned for export.
“Mexicans and other countries importing our hibiscus leaves (zobo) use it as organic colouring agents for drinks and wines, and as natural blended drink as we drink ‘zobo’ here in Nigeria; the pharmaceuticals also use it for colouring because it’s organic.
“In 2016 it generated $20 million, while in 2017 it generated $35 million within nine months. 1,983 containers were exported to Mexico alone, with other countries in Europe like Germany, Greece, Latvia, and countries of former USSR.
“The major producing State is Jigawa, others are Kastina, Kebbi, Zamfara, Borno and Yobe.”
Meanwhile, he urged states like Edo and Kwara to cultivate the zobo plant as it could germinate to boost their revenue generation. He also urged zobo farmers to properly organize and position themselves for increased volume of production and export, which will also create more jobs, and attract more intervention from government and development partners.
“For the farmers of hibiscus flowers, they are registering in Jigawa and Kano States, but we want them to form organized hibiscus farmers’ clusters like we see in other crops: rice, maize and sorghum; and that will further increase volume and investment in hibiscus leaves cultivation.
“They will also benefit from government and donor intervention in capacity building and technical assistance”, he said.
According to him, the agency will ensure that the mycotoxin challenge of agricultural commodities is tackled; efforts are being made to ensure this is achieved as there is collaboration with other relevant ministries and agencies to come up with reports to chart a new way to eradicate it.
“We want to know what the level of contamination of mycotoxins is, then what type of mycotoxin has each of those commodities; is it basically what they call ocratoxin or aflatoxin?
“We want to know how prevalent it is; which type of aflatoxin on which commodities, so it will help guide policy makers to decide on what to do next.
“It will open the economy to a lot of opportunities in research, development, public health disease prevention and the general well-being of the nation”, he stated.
Amaka E. Nliam