Nigeria’s quest to diversify its economy and drive exports of agricultural products have created a huge opportunity for jute bag production in the country, as Nigeria currently spends a whopping $2 billion annually importing the sack.
Jute bag which is made from the fibre of Kenaf- a crop that is suitable for cultivation on over one million hectares of land and can be grown in over 20 states of the country, is the globally accepted sack for packaging of agro commodities, according to the Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIRO).
Despite the huge potential in jute sack production, the country is yet to fully harness the economic benefits from growing kenaf, as it spends billions of dollars yearly on the importation of the sack from neighboring West African countries.
According to experts the money spent on importing the sack could have been saved if the country could tap into the opportunities of growing kenaf and producing jute sack.
“There is a huge opportunity for investors that can go into jute bag production in Nigeria. The market is very huge because exporters and farmers buy over 10 million jute bag yearly for exporting and storing their commodities,” Lanre Olateru-Olagbegi, chairman, Kenaf Development Association of Nigeria (KEDAN) told BusinessDay in a response to questions.
“The issue with Nigeria’s Kenaf production is that there is no market for the crop. This is because there are not processing factories in the country that can buy kenaf and process jute bags from it.
“There is also no outreach from the government and this is why there is still no commercial production of the crop in the costry. Most of our members are even refusing to grow the crop anymore because there is no market for it,” Olateru-Olagbegi said.
Kenaf has never been a major crop in Nigeria, but it provides the raw material for the manufacture of jute bags and for making high quality paper and newsprint; and the bark has been used for ropes.
Jute bag is the globally accepted sack for packaging of agricultural commodities such as cocoa, cotton, groundnuts, onions, kola nut, palm kernel, potatoes, grains, and coffee among others for export and storage.
Jute sack helps in reducing farmers’ post-harvest food losses, improve shelf life and help address environmental issues of waste.
“Currently, in the cashew value chain, we import a lot of jute bags from Ivory Coast, Ghana and Cameroun for packaging of our cashew for export,” Tola Faseru, national president, National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN) said.
“For cashew we need 15 jute sacks for every metric ton. This tells you the volume the country needs yearly for its export of agric commodities,” Faseru said.
Nigeria’s current jute sack requirement in the country is estimated at 28 million sacks. A jute sack sell for N500 per bag as at the time of writing in Lagos.