By Moh Bello Habib
A researcher with the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Kaduna state, Umar Hussaini MaiAnguwa, has urged the federal government to diversify the nation’s economy through the cultivation of jatropha to reduce over dependence on oil resources.
Maiangwa projected that, about 60-70 million rural families could be gainfully employed through the cultivation of estimated 30 million hectares of unused land for the crop, saying the project would repay its investment of N3.9 billion.
“The seed-cake that results after extracting the oil can be used as organic fertiliser for application on farms and this will serve for five years, which will save the farmer between 40 and 50 per cent of fertilizer requirements,” he said.
He submitted that the plant could help in land reclamation from erosion and desert encroachment, although they don’t have tap roots that could reach water levels deep below the surface.
Mai-Anguwa said, with 30million hectares of land, Nigeria would realise 75 billion litres of biodiesel per annum, translating into total revenue of N18 trillion per annum.
He however expressed shock that the proposed project had suffered set back as a result of lack of commitment from the federal government, as nothing has been done in this regard almost one year after the approval was given for its pilot project to start.
According to the approval letter, “The Honorable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development has graciously approved the inclusion of jatropha as one the commodity crops to be promoted in the 2018 budget. This is to enable Nigeria harness the enormous potential it possesses as a commodity crop as well as create jobs for numerous Nigerian families.”