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Nigeria must tap into $700mn global stevia market share – stakeholders

May 8, 2023

Stakeholders at the one-day training on the development of Stevia along its value chains in Nigeria have called on the federal government to prioritise investment in the sector, so that Stevia farmers in the country can tap into its $700 million global market.

The train-the-trainers workshop which was organized by Greenskill Centre in collaboration with the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) and National Stevia Producers Processors Marketers and Exporters Association of Nigeria in Abuja was part of the stakeholder’s efforts to enlighten interested farmers on the huge economic and health benefits of the plant.

Addressing participants at the workshop, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Greenskill Centre, Hajia Saidat Shonoiki, lamented government’s unwillingness to invest in Stevia, saying the plant can serve as alternative to sugar.

According to her, “Stevia is a natural alternative to sugar with zero calories. It is sold as green stevia or white stevia which is white powder or tablets sweeteners for domestic consumption. Stevia is also used in the pharmaceutical industry, as a result, the demand for stevia is rapidly increasing, and Nigeria has the potential to become a major player in the global stevia market.

“Our vision is to build a comprehensive and integrated stevia value chain that will benefit everyone involved, from farmers to consumers. We want to create a sustainable industry that will provide employment opportunities, support local farmers, and promote healthy living.

“To achieve this, we will focus on four key areas: farming, processing, distribution, and marketing. We will work with local farmers to grow high-quality stevia plants, provide them with training and support, and purchase their harvest at a fair price. We will then process the stevia leaves into sweeteners and other products, ensuring that they meet international standards.

“Our distribution network will be designed to reach both local and international markets, and we will partner with retailers and wholesalers to ensure that our products are accessible to consumers. Finally, we will promote the benefits of stevia through marketing campaigns and educational initiatives, raising awareness about the importance of healthy living and the potential of the stevia industry in Nigeria.

“We believe that the development of the National Stevia Value Chain in Nigeria will have a significant impact on the economy and the well-being of our people. It will provide new opportunities for farmers, create jobs, and promote sustainable agriculture. It will also offer consumers a healthy and affordable alternative to artificial sweeteners.

After the training, she said, farmers are expected to develop at least 1000 seedlings, register and each trainer will train other 50 other interested farmers and that each of these farmers should be able to N200,000 monthly while imbibing organic practices.

Also speaking, the Director General and Chief Executive Officer, RMRDC, Professor Hussiani Ibrahim who was represented by Mr Lawal Suraj, said there is a growing consciousness worldwide on the need to utilize natural sweeteners with less calories, especially for diabetics and weight watchers.

“This makes stevia an ideal plant and it is based on this that the Council initiates the strategic project on “Development and Utilization of Stevia for Industrial Use” in 2019,” he said.

According to him, the Council is planning to collaborate with several farmers for large-scale cultivation of stevia, in order to make available raw materials for the pilot plant that has been set up.

Also, he said there are plans to patent the research products so far achieved.

The National Stevia Producers Processors Marketers and Exporters Association of Nigeria, national president, Alhaji Modibo Umaru, said efforts are on to partner with some Southern America countries, so farmers can export their stevia products there. (Blueprint)

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