By Abiodun Oluleye/Sarafina Christopher
Nasarawa, Nov. 11, 2020 Mr Abudulkarim Mohammed, one of the top coconut dealers at Orange market, Mararaba, Karu Local Government Area, Nasarawa State, says coconut trade is one of the thriving businesses in the country.
Mohammed, who deals in wholesale and retail of coconut, told newsmen , in an interview on Wednesday in Mararaba, that unlike other crops, coconut was a viable crop that could be used for many purposes.
According to him, he supplies the commodity for household consumption, small businesses like oil production, milk and medical purposes.
The coconut trader told NAN that the business, though stressful, was very lucrative especially if you put good money into it; and that his business, which started small, had flourished and grown big within a short time.
NAN reports that coconut, which is being grown in tropical regions for more than 4,500 years, recently became popular for its flavour, gastronomic uses, and potential health benefits.
The oil and milk derived from coconut are commonly used in cooking – frying in particular, as well as for cosmetics and soap making.
The hard shells, fibrous husks and long pinnate leaves, can be used as material to make a variety of products for furniture making and decoration.
“Coconut can be processed into oil, creams, baking of bread and cakes, while the husk itself could be used as activated charcoal for industrial purposes.
“It is recommended by physicians for the treatment of some ailments like obesity and diabetes; and also fights bacteria, bladder infection and kidney disease.
“It also contains protein, several important minerals, and small amounts of B vitamins,” Mohammed said.
He further explained that coconut contained minerals such as manganese, which are essential for bone health and the metabolism.
“It is also rich in copper and iron, which help form red blood cells, as well as selenium, an important antioxidant that protects your cells.
Coconut oil is good for cooking because it does not contain fat, it is highly recommended for obese people,” Mohammed said.
Another trader, Mr Inusa Alhasan, a wholesaler of coconut, said due to high demand of coconut in the market, it had become one of the current thriving businesses.
Alhasan said: “In fact people are trooping into the market everyday to buy coconut.
“We sell a bag of coconut for between N11,000 and N12,000, and each bag contains up to 80 pieces.
“Four litres of coconut oil is N17,000, and you need at least one and half bag of coconut to extract that quantity of oil.
“If we need to produce oil, we have to use the one from Ghana and Cote D’ivoire because it has high oil content with low water.
“Sometimes it has no water at all and they vary in sizes, the ones from Nigeria are usually very big and round while that of Ghana and Cote D’ivoire are small in nature and long.
“We have to import coconuts from Ghana and Cote D’ivoire because the ones produced in Nigeria do not have oil, they are only good for milk production as they have high water content.’’
According to him however, this affects their profit margin because of the challenges they often encounter in importing the commodity.
Alhassan listed the challenges to include, high excise duty, bad roads and high transportation cost due to hikes fuel price.
The traders therefore appealed to the Federal Government to intervene by reducing duty on coconut importation, rehabilitation of roads within the country, as well tackling the fuel price hike.
According to Mrs Glory Ikechukwu, a hairstylist, she usually buys coconut every week for commercial purposes.
Ikechukwu explained that the coconut was usually processed into oil that was used on Brazilian wool for making hair.
“When you use it on Brazilian wool, it makes it smoother and it is more effective compared to other hair oils.
“Coconut oil is also good for natural hair,” she added.