This week, TERRIFIC HEADLINES continues its series on PROMOTING NIGERIA MADE PRODUCTS under the caption: INVESTMENT AND MARKET OPPORTUNITIES IN AFRICA’S INDIGENOUS STIMULANTS as part of our contributions to the growth of local industries and initiatives. Stimulants are substances that increase central nervous system activities in the human body. Most of these stimulants contain chemicals of the methylxanthine group. They increase alertness, heart rates and energy levels in man. Stimulants are also widely used because they produce a sense of euphoria that most people crave for. It comes in the form of a lecture delivered by a patriotic Nigeria, Prof. Tunde Adeniran who has served the nation in several capacities. The focus this week is on BITTER KOLA, COFFEE, MORINGA OLIFERA, GINGSENG.
Our guide is Prof. Tunde Adeniran, KJW, OFR; a patriot and erudite scholar who has served Nigeria in several capacities and who, during his tenure as Nigeria’s ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany was hyper-active and recorded highly remarkable achievements in generating Foreign Direct Investment into Nigeria. Prof. Adeniran was particularly an investment enthusiast who engaged in the external marketing of Nigerian products. This should be more so, in view of decades of enlightenment that had removed ritualistic misconceptions and ignorance regarding the nature, immediate usefulness and potential value of specific agricultural produce. His patriotism and interest in seeing Nigeria move forward led to his release of this piece authored by him for publication by TERRIFIC HEADLINES.
AFRICA AS AN EMERGING INVESTMENT DESTINATION: Today Africa is fast emerging as the new investment destination for most investors. As a result of its use in preparation of herbal drugs either as supplements, nourishment or herbal remedy, there is a growing demand for it. In view of its health benefits such as the treatment of cold, fever, .cough, sneezing, diarrhea and bacterial infection, the demand will definitely continue to increase. Meanwhile, Bitter kola is in great demand in the USA, Britain, China and India. The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) hasalso opened up greater opportunity for the penetration of the American market.
COFFEE (Coffea Arabica and Coffeacanephora): Coffee beans owe its stimulant effect to its caffeine content. The caffeine content in Coffee’ beans ranges from 0.9-1.7% depending on the species. With an annual global production of 8-10 million metric tons this crop has been listed as the top agricultural export for about 1,2 countries and the world’s the largest argicexport as late as 2005. The green (unroasted} coffee bean is one of the most traded agric commodities in the world today. The global trade in coffee is valued at about $70.00 billion. The crop helps to contribute significantly to the GOP of countries like Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia, Colombia, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, ORC and. Uganda. Unfortunately, African countries are still fringe. players in the cultivation and trade of this commercially viable crop. This is despite the fact that the topography and weather of some African countries favor the cultivation of coffee.
Coffee is used as a good source of caffeine for the pharmaceutical industry. However, its use is largely in the beverage industry for its stimulant properties. Vietnam tripled their exports of coffee between 1995 and 1999. Since a market already exists for coffee, investors in Africa can also take advantage of Africa’s under-utilized put cheap land, favorable weather conditions, cheaper labor, and closer access to the European market (when compared to some South American or Asian growers) to grab a bigger chunk of the coffee trade. The top Coffee importing countries in Europe are:
Germany, Italy, France, Spain, and UK. Because of the addictive nature of Coffee the market will only grow bigger.
Moringa Oleifera: In the past few years many Nigerians have discovered Moringa to be one of the world’s most useful plants and nutritious crops. This drought resistant tree is said to have been brought to us from Southern India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Moringa is now grown in Africa and the Caribbean. In northern Nigeria, Moringa was originally grown essentially for fence making but, today, its potential as the “tree of life” has made Moringa a rich source of protein for both human being and animal and a source of revenue. But more than that, virtually all parts of the plant are valuable to man as food, medicine, and fuel. Parts of the health benefits of the Moringa tree are said to include its strong antioxidant effect against prostrate and skin cancers, tumor and its’ anti-aging substance. Moringa is also said to “modulate anaemia, high blood pressure, diabetes, high serum or blood cholesterol, thyroid, liver and kidney problems”.
Moringa was first introduced to me at our Graceful Ageing Fellowship (GRAF) in Abuja some years ago and testimonies from various people have been amazing. A professional has also confirmed that “Moringa has strong anti-inflammatory properties and ameliorating rheumatism, joint pain, arthritis, oedema and lupus. The plant is effective against digestive disorder including colitis, diarrhea, flatulence (gas), ulcer or gastritis”; Itisto a great advantage that Moringa can grow inany part of the country given its low moisture requirement. It can be grown through seed planting, stem propagation or through existing plant anytime during the year. With the promises that Moringa holds in nutrition, medicine, manufacturing and cosmetic industry, there is a huge investments opportunity in this plant also called the “miracle plant” of the century.
Scholars and public commentators have been giving some publicity to the value of Moringa for quite some time. For instance, according to Olumakinde Oni in the BUSINESS DAY of Monday 14 February 2001, “Serious minded investors can be assisted in the establishment of the plantation’ inc1uding procurement of seeds’ and stem cuttings. Propagation by seed has proved more reliable than the stem cuttings. Moringa is ready for harvesting from the age of 6 months and can be harvested for over 50 years if the plantation is well maintained”. Further in his profitability analysis, Oni posits that flit is possible to make a sum of N20, 000 from a stand of Moringa plant by selling the seeds and the dried leaves. From five hectares of land, we have about 6,000 stands. This gives a gross income of N120 million annually. The maximum operating cost to maintain the plantation is not more than N5 million annually. This is no doubt a good source of income for Nigerians”.
Already, in Niger Republic, investments in Moringa plant have started yielding dividends by providing farmers prosperity and overall life transformation among the rural people. Under a programme termed “Moringa Value Chain approach”, testimonies are pouring infrom local women: According to Karimou, a housewife, “it used to be that after the hot season, we were left empty handed,” … “now [with our Moringa production] we have food, clothes, and money for education and healthcare for our children. We have used the profits from selling Moringa to purchase animals, and even a new irrigation system for the garden to (further increase production).” (Quoted in Annette Frost, “Moringa: the Tree of Life”, www.huffingtonpost.com/annette-frost/mo)
Back home here in Nigeria, THISDAY newspaper of October 10, 2013 has reported that Nigeria can earn a whopping $1 billion annually from herbal products; According to the Report, a pharmacist, Maurice Iwu, argued that “countries like South Africa, Kenya and Ghana’ that have developed their herbs, health food and natural products earn a whopping $3 million daily from the sector”. In addition to that, he said the herbs and dietary supplements and phytomedicines are helping residents of the countries to effectively fight ailments. III don’t see why the nation cannot generate $1 billion annually from this. It ‘is just in terms of monetary value. The jobs that you create, the healthy nation that you have, the impact you have in the society are unquantifiable”, he stated:
CONCLUSION: Very encouraging Investment and Market Opportunities exist for Investors in Africa’s Indigenous Stimulants. There is an existing market for some of the stimulants in African Countries but export potential also exists for these stimulants. Potential return on investment in these stimulants is high because of easy access to arable land, favourable climatic conditions and cheaper, skilled and unskilled labor. About three decades ago two substances Ginseng, a dietary supplement and Artemisinin, an antimalarial drug, both from plant origin, had not found their way into mainstream use’ worldwide.
Today the reverse is the case because of a concerted effort by the Chinese toput them there. The same can be done for Africa’s indigenous stimulants. African stimulants can be produced and marketed to the world. Already, the approach of the present Minister of Agriculture to transform agriculture into a thriving business is yielding fruits in the rice and cassava sectors. African stimulants like kolanut, bitter kola and moringa hold even’ higher potentials in investment opportunity and all that is lacking is to unlock this huge wealth waiting to be tapped. In this regard, there is also the need to tackle insect infestation, the major problem being faced by producers of ,these products while a good storage system to preserve quality and improve sales is a vital necessity.
This piece was graciously released for publication in public and national interest bya patriot, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, KJW, OFR. It forms part of a lecture delivered by the erudite scholar at IITA, Ibadan.