The Federal Government has established a programme themed ‘Promoting the Development of Hibiscus Value Chain in Nigeria for Job creation, income generation, food and nutritional security’. The purpose is to promote the development of the value chain as one of the most important export crops in Nigeria. The federal government will promote awareness of the health benefits of hibiscus and its potential to contribute to diversify the economy for job creation and income generation.
The Hibiscus plant has both nutritional and medicinal properties used by pharmaceutical, food, livestock feeds, beverages, and cosmetic companies. In Nigeria, it is used to make the popular drink known as Zobo, a herbal drink. In addition, it is also used in the poultry industry for animal feed. Statistics show that Nigeria is one of the largest producers of Hibiscus in the world, meaning that there are opportunities for investment, job creation and foreign exchange generation.
Farmers have revealed that some of the challenges facing the sub-sector include fluctuating prices, the invasion of farms by herdsmen, and the activities of middlemen who hike the prices when demand is high. In addition, quality has become an issue as the products brought to the market are sometimes not up to international standards. An example is the ban placed by Mexico on exports from Nigeria in 2018 as a result of quality. The sub-sector suffered because exports to Mexico accounted for about 80% in export income.
The Kano State Director at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Mr. Abba Gana, said that farmers are not adopting the correct practices when cultivating the Hibiscus flower. To effectively achieve good quality, the produce must go through safety stages – spreading and sifting, sorting, final check and bagging.
Another recommendation to improve the quality of the produce is to set up standard sanitary and phytosanitary labs, as proffered by the President of Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria (FACAN) Dr. Victor Iyama.