An expert, Dotun Ogunniyan, the Acting Head of Kenaf and Jute Improvement Programme at the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Ibadan, has described Kenaf as a multipurpose crop capable of boosting Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Ogunniyan said that kenaf’s roots, leaves, flowers and seeds could be processed for livestock feed, human food, oil, medicine, fertiliser and dyeing materials.
He noted that kenaf had been examined for use in bio-energy sector as it could be used for production of ethyl alcohol and other chemical products using lingo-cellulose conversion technologies.
The seed scientist added that it could also be used in the cleaning up of liquid leakages from plants in industrial areas and sprayed on soil mulches to prevent run-off and wind erosion.
“The crop is renewable, grows extremely quickly, can be grown in many places worldwide making it a prime candidate for use by local fibre and textile producers.
” It has low maintenance, little water and requires almost no pesticide or fertiliser.
“The leaves are edible with crude protein content while the bast fibre can be used to produce shoes, clothes, ropes, threads, carpet padding, belts and textile for car seats and bags.
“Its core fibre is useful as particleboard, bio-composites for building, accessories such as doors, furniture, hardboard panels, soil modifiers, active carbon, absorbent and high quality paper and newsprint.
“The core and bast fibres can also be jointly used as automobile dashboards, bumpers for cars, interior panels of planes, cellulose for chemicals used in industries and decorative applications,” he said.
According to him, kenaf known as Hibiscus Cannabinus, is a close relative of cotton, okra, jute and rosselle.
He said its origin had not been proved but the existence of wild types of the crop in East-Central Africa suggested it originated from Africa.
Ogunniyan added that commercially, the crop is cultivated in more than 20 countries including Tanzania, Kenya, USA and China.
it is found in many states of Nigeria, especially Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Ekiti, Gombe, Kaduna, Kwara, Kogi, Niger, Nasarawa, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Taraba and FCT.
“We urge government at all levels and stakeholders in agriculture sector to join hands and harness the potentials of this unique crop to improve the economy,” he said.
IAR&T conducts research into the genetic improvement of kenaf and jute production in Nigeria as part of its mandate