By Raji Rasak
Badagry (Lagos State), Sept. 2, 2020 (NAN) Mr Olusegun Onilude, Chairman, Badagry Local Government Area of Lagos, says the council will partner with relevant stakeholders to rehabilitate depleting Coconut plantation in the area.
Onilude made this known on Wednesday at the 2020 World Coconut Day, organised by the African Coconut Heritage Initiatives, the Founder of Agunkefest, in Badagry.
Naija247news reports that the programme was sponsored by the initiatives, in collaboration with three local government areas in Badagry.
Onilude said that Coconut was the most versatile crop with varieties of uses, from economic to health, tourism and environmental.
The chairman said that Badagry was blessed with Coconut since the first plantation was established in Topo Island by the Roman Catholic Mission in 1876.
“In those days, Badagry had enough Coconut plantation to cater for our needs.
“Currently, things have changed because the plantation in Badagry faces various forms of challenges, ranging from man made to indiscriminate felling of the trees for roof making and market induced forces.
“Now, Badagry cannot meet up with the demands again, and traders have to go as far as Ghana to bring Coconut to Badagry to make up for the deficit.
“This seems to be a dangerous trend for us as the product is seen as our heritage; so, this demand a joint and concerted effort to reverse the trend,” he said.
Onilude said that the council was ready to do all it takes to ensure there was coconut plantation in the town by partnering with relevant stakeholders.
He said the council would encourage all coconut growers, sellers, and entire Badagry federation to start growing the product through cooperative societies and individuals.
Commenting, Prince Doheto Mesi, President of the initiatives, said that coconut production reserve in Badagry had continuously nose-diving due to indiscriminate felling of its trees without adequate plans for replanting.
“This has also caused production deficit evident in the current practice of importation of coconuts in large quantities from neighbouring African countries into Badagry coconut markets to keep feet in the business and as a cover up.
“This is worrisome and gradually pushing the Coconut heritage in Badagry on the brink of extinction, if care is not taken.
“It has become imperative for all stakeholders, government at all levels, traditional rulers, NGOs farmers, traders and business owners and investors to join hands in reversing this dangerous trend in Lagos State, especially in Badagry.
“This is also an avenue to tap into the investment opportunities in the value chain,” he said.
Mesi said the initiatives, as an NGO, was geared toward promotion, preservation and protection of the Coconut Heritage.
According to him, the initiatives is using this 2020 celebration to call for round table joint action plan with the local governments of Badagry Federation to initiate a sustainable action plans of massive coconut planting toward reversing this dangerous trend.
Also, Mrs Elizabeth Soremi, who represented the Executive Director, Nigeria Institute of Oil Palm Research, urged residents to plant the product back after cutting the tree.
Commenting, Mr Tunde Hunpatin, the Secretary, Lagos State Coconut Traders and Sellers Association, urged the governments to encourage planting of coconut by assisting in the distribution of seedlings to residents.
Naija247news reports that the event was marked with planting of 200 seedlings of the product within the premises of the council.