By Olamide Tejuoso
The National President of the National Sunflower Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NSUNGPMAN), Mr. Jibrin Bukar, has stated that Nigeria has a huge potential to produce sunflower seeds that could generate revenue up to US$3.5 billion. Experts have projected that since Nigeria has the highest potential of sunflower production in Africa, among the over 15 countries like Tanzania, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Egypt, Ethiopia, Morocco, Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Angola, South Africa, Rwanda and Sudan, the country can earn about US$1.5billion from the export of its seeds and another US$2bn from export of other processed products, such as cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, oil and other food products.
Stating this at a recent meeting with relevant stakeholders, Bukar noted that Nigeria was a major producer of sunflower seeds in Africa and one of the strategic players in the global market space because of the huge potentials of the product in the country. “Presently, the country produces about 450,000 metric tonnes annually. It is expected to increase to over 600,000 metric tonnes, if few large-scale and privately-owned sunflower processing plants are established”, he said. The states with potential for production, according to him, are: Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe, Jigawa, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Niger, Federal Capital Territory, Nasarawa, Plateau, Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Ondo, Ogun, Oyo, Ekiti, Edo, Delta, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu and Anambra.
Calling for an up-scaling of the production of sunflower in the country, he added that an anticipated national sunflower summit would be a huge success since farmers and the processors are willing to work with other stakeholders. The sunflower crop has varying functions to humans. For instance, the leaves are used as fodder, the flowers yield a yellow dye, and the seeds contain oil that could be used for food as it is loaded with significant vitamins. Also, Sunflower oil cake is used for stock and poultry feeding. Sunflower seeds when consumed, also provide the human body with plant compounds like flavonoids and phenolic acids that are strong antioxidants.