How Nigeria can save $150m yearly from castor oil importation
By deepening investment in backward integration, especially in terms of new technology and seeds, as well as encouraging firms to source local alternatives for imports, Nigeria would be saving at least $150 million from castor oil importation.
Specifically, the Raw Material Research and Development Council (RMRDC) has reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring that value-addition is embraced and local sourcing intensified.
The Lagos State Coordinator, RMRDC, Tokunbo Habeeb, said Nigeria can no longer afford to spend scarce foreign exchange on importing commodities it has the competitive and comparative advantage of producing.
Habeeb stated this at the commissioning of Agape Great Grace Ventures’ bleached castor oil production facility located in the Sagamu area of Ogun State.
According to him, the demand for castor oil in Nigeria is huge; stating the Council’s resolve to support farmers with improved castor seeds will boost the production of castor oil in the country.
“We also have plans to revitalize all the raw materials in 10 sectors of the Nigerian economy and once we identify a private sector showing interest in the nation’s raw material development, we will provide the data and information concerning the raw material requirement.
“Castor oil is major oil used in the cosmetic industry and it has been costing the country so much money importing this commodity. This is why we assembled the farmers to provide the seeds while also ensuring that we provide some vital equipment to enhance their agronomic practices.”
He said the Council will be also organising a buyers-sellers conference to expose the nation’s huge potential in castor oil production.
“We also took different strides to ensure that the seeds are available all year round to the manufacturer. Castor seeds are produced in the northern part of the country, but we have assembled some farmers all over the Southwest and presented them with high-quality seeds.
“We have also assured them that their products will be bought by the company after the harvest. This is a pilot plant. We want the technology to be here first and after we get the technology, we would invite the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO) to understudy the technology for local fabrication. Our interest here is to get the yields very high to be able to meet industrial standards.
“The company produces a tonne of castor oil which is a tip of the iceberg considering the quantity of castor oil that the country needs. It is a step in the right direction. What we are proving is that the raw material is readily available in the country while the technology can be deployed to meet the raw materials that we have,” he added.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Agape Great Grace Ventures, Mrs. Omololu Ope-Ewe, said the market for castor oil is huge, commending the Council for providing castor seeds to farmers in the Southwest.
She called on the federal government to provide grants to manufacturers in the castor oil industry to reduce the level of import to the barest minimum.
“We already have the equipment to process but seedling is vital. Courtesy of the help of the council, farmers in the Southwest will start harvesting their produce by December. This facility is able to produce a tonne per day. Castor oil has about 34 uses and we need over 20 companies to invest in this technology to stop the importation of Castor oil into the country,” she stated.
She added: “The basic challenge of the industry is lack of access to funds, infrastructure. We will advise the government to give grants to boost castor oil production to reduce the level of importation while creating employment opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths.”
On his part, the National President, Castor Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria, Lawan Alli, urged the Council to prioritise efforts in providing both foundation and parent stock seeds to discourage importation of hybrid castor seeds.
“Nigeria cannot continue importing hybrid seeds from India. The Council has already made provisions for getting these seeds which we would produce locally. This would go a long way to address the biggest challenge faced by farmers because importing seeds is very difficult. We have sensitised the farmers around here because the factory is in the South West.
“Last year, we got a good number of seeds and this year, the RMRDC brought some seeds and distributed them for free to farmers in the Southwest and we hope we are going to get more,” he said.