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2024 Budget: Reps Tell FG to Earmark Funds for Rubber Farmers

By Bliss Okperan

The federal government has been asked by the House of Representatives to make a provision for rubber farmers in the country in the 2024 budget estimates expected to be submitted to the National Assembly in the coming weeks.

At the plenary on Tuesday, the lawmakers said the importance of rubber smallholder farmers to the nation’s economy cannot be underestimated.

The lower chamber of the parliament made this submission after one of its members, Mr Chris Nkwonta, raised a motion on the need to address the challenges of the Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria (RRIN).

The central government was charged to formulate and implement a national policy on rubber development that will provide a conducive environment for research production processing and marketing of natural rubber in Nigeria.

The lawmaker posited that the Rubber Research Institute is an investment with economic potential, including export production, job creation, research, high-yield rubber varieties, processing technologies, rubber-based agroforestry, capacity building, market research, and policy recommendations.

Recall that the RRIN Substation, Akwete was established in 1960 under the control of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, following the promulgation of Decree No. 25 of 1971, and it extends the institute’s mandate to rubber farmers in Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Enugu, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Rivers and Imo States.

The institute also contributed significantly to the development of rubber as a major cash crop and a source of foreign exchange for Nigeria.

Mr Nkwonta shared his concern, saying that the situation is not only detrimental to the Rubber Research Institute but also to millions of Nigerians relying on rubber for income and employment, adding that it undermines diversification of the economy and the attainment of food security and self-reliance.

While adopting the motion seconded by Mr Maureen Chinwe, the House of Reps advised the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to collaborate with other natural-producing countries in Africa and Asia to promote regional cooperation and trade in natural rubber.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria’s natural rubber production decreased from 155,000 metric tons in 2010 to 88,000 metric tons in 2020, with export value dropping from $217 million to $67 million as a result of competition from other countries and global price fluctuations.

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