Nigeria’s annual expenditure of N165 billion on the importation of juice concentrate could be reduced by companies through the training of farmers and food processors, says a top official of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC).
Asabe Mustapha, the assistant director of the Textile and Garment Division at RMRDC, said this on Friday in Abuja at the end of a five-day capacity-building training organised by the council in collaboration with the Islamic Development Bank (ISDB) in a reverse linkage programme.
Fruit juice concentrate is fruit juice from which most water has been extracted to form a thick syrup.
“The importation of concentrates has adversely impacted local fruit cultivation for juice processing, resulting in significant annual losses and capital flight,” Ms Mustapha said.
She noted that the dependence on imports has impeded the competitiveness of local fruit juice production, hindering investment prospects in value addition and processing of tropical fruits within Nigeria.
Ms Mustapha said it was to mitigate the challenges that “the Reverse Linkage Programme aims to achieve several objectives, including capacity building in process technology for juice concentrate production.
Ms Mustapha, the coordinator of the RMRDC/ISDB Reverse Linkage Programme, stated that agriculture played a vital role in the Nigerian economy, with the fruit and vegetables sector holding immense potential for economic growth and prosperity.
The RMRDC official decried the over-dependence of Nigerians on foreign concentrates and called for developing indigenous technological capabilities to enable Nigeria to become a major player in the global technology space.
According to her, the primary mandate of RMRDC is to foster self-reliance by optimising the use of local raw material resources for sustainable industrial growth and advancement within the country.
The RMRDC official stated that the council is working closely with relevant institutions to develop new and improved varieties of agricultural seeds.
“There are several challenges that hinder our agricultural progress, and it is our responsibility to address them collectively. That is why the council is collaborating with the Islamic Development Bank to enhance capacity in the fruits and vegetables value chain of production, processing, storage, and marketing,” she said.