The Raw Material Research and Development Council (RMRDC)-an agency of the Federal Government, which promotes the production of crops of strategic importance to the economy, is now reviving kenaf production.

Last week, the agency gathered kenaf farmers, processors and marketers and gave them improved seeds for the 2017 planting season, in a ceremony held in Abuja.

The Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of the council, Dr Hussain Doko Ibrahim, said kenaf was capable of revolutionizing the Nigerian agricultural and industrial landscape if its potentials were well harnessed.

“One of the major industrial uses of kenaf, which Nigeria is presently most concerned, is the production of jute sacks for packaging agro raw materials for exports. In view of the collapse of the national initiative on the jute sacks production locally, the current jute sacks requirement in the country is estimated at about 5 million pieces,” he said.

Represented by Dr A A. Ogunwusi, the Director, Agriculture & Agro Allied Department of the council, he said the import costs about N2.75 billion in foreign exchange on annual basis, adding that the situation has forced commodity exporters to import second hand jute sacks from Ghana.

This, he said, necessitated the council’s intervention in growing kenaf, which is a raw material for the jute bags industries in the country.

“To promote sustainability of improved planting materials, the council in collaboration with the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training IAR&T, Ibadan, this year produced improved kenaf seeds, which are being distributed today to the members of Kenaf Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (KEPPMAN) for further multiplication,” he stated.

Currently, Nigeria has over one million hectares of land for the cultivation of kenaf in about 18 states of the federation-Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba, Plateau, Kwara, Kaduna, Benue, Kogi, Niger, Nasarawa, Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Ekiti and the FCT.

Other areas of intervention by the council include establishment of a pilot kenaf farms and processing centres in Oyo and Niger states in 2012 and 2014 respectively; multi-locational-field trials of improved kenaf seeds through IAR&T Ibadan; design and fabrication of kenaf decorticating machines at Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, among other areas.

Reacting to the development, National President of Kenaf Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (KEPPMAN), Hassan Abubakar, in an exclusive interview with Daily Trust, said the gesture was a welcome development, adding that the association now had improved seed for multiplication and distribution to other farmers.

Apostle Kunle Amosu, the National Secretary of the association, however, worried that kenaf could be cultivated in commercial quantity without mechanizing the process.

He puts the jute bags needs of Nigeria at 28 million, adding that “to produce just 2 million bags, you need 3,000 tonnes of kenaf fibre.”

Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus) is an annual fibre cordage crop ( for making rope, thread, and sack cloth) now has new applications including paper products, building materials, absorbents, and livestock feed.