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Why FG must promote sunflower farming

The world edible oil supply is in crisis, making it difficult for many homes to run their kitchen smoothly.   Consumers need oil for fried…

The world edible oil supply is in crisis, making it difficult for many homes to run their kitchen smoothly.  

Consumers need oil for fried food, mayonnaise, baking, cookies, pizza, dough, chin-chin, akara, stew, among others.  

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The largest exporter of sunflower seed oil in the world is Ukraine. Every year, it exports 5.4 million tonnes of edible oil or over half of the world’s sunflower oil. But because of the war in Ukraine, supplies have been interrupted.  

Russia, which is waging this battle, produces 25 per cent of the world’s sunflower oil, and supply has also suffered there as well because of global sanction.  

The supply of other oil-producing seeds has also suffered. For example, the largest exporter of rapeseed oil is Canada while soybean oil is mostly produced in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. But supply has been affected by climate change-related problems.

In terms of palm oil, the greatest exporter is Indonesia, which has also restricted exports due to a local scarcity, and this has caused prices to increase by 40 per cent. The country alone accounts for one-third of the world’s vegetable oil exports (30 million tonnes of vegetable oil).   

Although  Netherlands, Germany, Estonia and Malaysia are the next  largest exporters of palm oil, when combined, they cannot make up for Indonesia’s exports, indicating that demand exceeds supply. In other words, a price increase cannot be avoided. 

In Europe, the price of palm oil has soared by about 50 per cent. Rapeseed prices are up more than 23 per cent  since March globally, and they will continue to rise. 

Domestic potentials 

The National President, National Sunflower Growers Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Jibrin K. Bukar, in an interview with Daily Trust on Sunday, said the world had resorted to Nigeria in search of sunflower products, especially the oil, which is regarded as the second best after olive in terms of health benefits and the fourth most consumed internationally due to the turmoil that has enveloped Ukraine and Russia. 

He said Nigeria needed to take advantage of this opportunity because Ukraine contributes more than 57 per cent of the world’s sunflower crop. 

Alhaji Bukar stated that the country currently produces roughly 250,000 metric tonnes a year. If a few large-scale privately-owned sunflower processing plants are built, it is anticipated to rise to above 500,000 metric tonnes. Additionally, it is anticipated that the country’s production will reach over 750,000 tonnes yearly once more cottage processing facilities are built in production clusters to boost upstream efficiency.

States that can grow sunflower

Farmers in 26 states of the country can comfortably produce the seed in commercial quantities if supported by government at various levels.    

The states are Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe, Jigawa, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Niger, Kwara, Plateau, Nassarawa, Benue, Kogi, Edo, Delta, Enugu, Anambra, Ondo, Ogun, Oyo and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).  

Although planting has begun, few states like Gombe and neighbouring states are majorly doing the production. 

Market potential for Nigeria  

Alhaji Bukar said Nigeria could earn about USD1.5 billion, which is about N628.5bn at the current N419 to $1 (CBN official rate) from the export of sunflower seeds and another USD 2 billion from the export of other processed sunflower products like cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, oil and other food products because it has the highest potential for sunflower production among producing countries in Africa.  

The farmer, however, worries that the market is not encouraging since most oil millers have abandoned the milling. However, he said oil millers are currently returning to production, but the amount of seed output, which serves as their raw material, is insufficient to meet their demand; as a result, the majority of them have given up milling the seeds.

In this context, communication is required with significant oil producers, pharmaceutical firms and the cosmetics sector, which primarily uses sunflower as a raw material.  

Available varieties  

Currently, the Institute for Agricultural Research, Samaru, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, has bred and released four types, and work is ongoing to release more.  

These varieties include: SAMSUN 1 (this variety can produce 2.21 tonnes per hectare) SAMSUN 2 (2.53 tonnes per hectare), SAMSUN 3   (produce 2.27 tonnes per hectare) and SAMSUN 4 (yields 2.38 tonnes per hectare).   

“It also came to our notice recently that there exist varieties that can yield between 5 and 6 tonnes per hectare at the institute of field and vegetable crops, National Institute of the Republic of Serbia (established in 1938), Maksima Gorkog 30, Novi Sad, Serbia, which can be integrated into Nigerian farming system,” Alhaji Bukar said.