By Christian Njoku
Calabar, Aug. 8, 2020 The National Rubber Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NARPPMAN) has appealed to the Federal Government to enlist rubber as one of the cash crops to be developed in Nigeria.
Mr Peter Igbinosun, President of the association made this known in an interview with Newsmen on Saturday in Calabar, Cross River.
Igbinosun said that government intervention in robber production was paramount, considering its enormous by-products and economic values.
In view of these economic values, he said that NARPPMAN “is planning massive rubber cultivation with a view to creating 640,000 direct jobs’’.
He also said that 160,000 people would be indirectly employed as service providers under the scheme.
He said NARPPMAN would plant rubber in 160,000 hectares of rubber plantation in 24 states across the country in the next ten years.
According to him, presently, Nigeria has about 200,000 hectares of rubber plantation in the hands of smallholders and industrial plantations.
Igbinosun said that the rubber industry alone could provide over 800,000 employments, making it “a goldmine’’.
“It will not be out of place to say that it would have been difficult to fight COVID-19 around the world without the use of rubber by-products.
“In Nigeria, for example, the complaint by medical personnel about insufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the fight against the pandemic was heard by everyone.
“The medical and surgical disposables like hand gloves, rain boots, coveralls, and some components of eye goggles, mattresses and pillows, seat cushions used by medical personnel are all by-products of rubber and underscores its high importance,’’ he said.
According to him, the challenges facing rubber production and processing range from lack of facilities and high cost of credit to finance private rubber plantation development.
“There is also the high cost of inputs, labour and processing mostly due to the current energy crisis and uncontrolled hike in the price of petroleum products.
He said that there was also poor exploitation practices in rubber plantations.
“Surviving rubber trees are exploited by untrained and greedy tappers by employing damaging tapping techniques such as slaughter tapping, thus killing rubber trees.
“There is also the long gestation period of five to seven years for rubber, which serves as a disincentive to smallholders and investors in the commodity.
“Obtaining short and low-interest loans from the banks for the crop, most times, is a mirage.
“In addition, there is the difficulty in accessing land for cultivation because of the land tenure system.’’
The chairman, therefore, appealed to the Federal Government to enlist rubber as one of the cash crops to be developed in Nigeria considering its enormous by-products and economic values.