The Hibiscus Farmers Processors Marketers Exporters Association of Nigeria (HFPMEAN), Bauchi State Chapter, has urged the Federal Government to support farmers with farm inputs to boost production and to earn more foreign exchange.
The state Chairman of the association, Alhaji Mustapha Shehu, made the call in an interview in Bauchi state.
He said that hibiscus is one horticultural crop that is not just earning foreign exchange for Nigeria but also creating wealth for farmers.
He explained that since the renewed focus on agriculture, Nigeria seems to have shifted to horticulture to boost foreign exchange.
He, therefore, urged government to support farmers with farm facilities, and groundwater technology to provide water to farms during dry season farming.
He said “no country can be self-sufficient in food production and boost exchange rate by producing crops in only one season.
“Government must provide water for farmers to plant during dry season and provide enough farm inputs such as seed, fertilizer, pesticides, among others.”
The Chairman suggested that government should collaborate with traditional leaders in providing inputs to farmers to enable the inputs to reach poor farmers.
Describing hibiscus as an important perennial herb, he said “hibiscus is not only promising, but can also contribute to the economic empowerment of farmers and transformation of rural communities.
“Hibiscus business is booming in the Nigerian market, as exporters now ferry a larger percentage of the crop to foreign countries.
“Agro allied firms are also making huge investments in the hibiscus value chain, owing to the ever increasing global demand for the flower.
“Nigeria is the natural habitat for five varieties of hibiscus and among the world’s top producers and suppliers of the crop.”
According to him, hibiscus grows nearly in every part of the country all-year-round, sourced in states like Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Gombe,Bauchi and Borno, where it is cultivated in large quantities.
He added that “the flower can stay up to five years. It is used for the local drink known as Zobo and can be processed into hot and cold herbal beverages, jellies and confectioneries, among others.
“The extracts from hibiscus flower and leaves are of great benefits, either medically or in industrial production,” he stressed