Nigeria and major producers in West Africa are losing yearly in the global rubber market estimated at $49 billion.
Already, rubber Market Report Insights (2023-2030), published by www.marketreportsworld.com, projects that the market will hit $64 billion in 2028.
So far, most of Africa’s total natural rubber production of about 1.1 million tonnes is concentrated in West Africa; a figure shared between Côte d’Ivoire’s 82.4 per cent, Liberia’s 9.1per cent, Nigeria’s 4.6 per cent, and Cameroon’s 3.9 per cent, according to a report.
Côte d’Ivoire is set to become the world’s third-largest natural rubber producer by volume and her exports to reach $936 million by 2026, according to research firm, ReportLinker.
On the other hand, Nigeria, Liberia and Cameroon are battling internal challenges hampering them from being catapulted them into leading positions in the rubber production index for Africa.
Nigeria is ranked the 12th largest producer of natural rubber in the world and second in Africa with an estimated output of 200,000 tonnes, according to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
While natural rubber is used to manufacture various products such as erasers, electrical insulation, and elastic bands, synthetic rubber, an elastic material manufactured by the fractional distillation of naphtha, a crude oil derivative, is used by the transport industry for the production of tyres.
According to a report from SkyQuest, tyre manufacturers globally were facing a number of challenges in the rubber market, including lack of raw materials and rising costs.
However, analysts observed that the Nigeria has failed to take advantage of the multi-billion-dollar opportunity in the rubber industry considering the Federal Government’s economic diversification campaign in the non-oil sector.
One of the reasons for this, the President, Federation of Agro Commodities Association of Nigeria(FACAN), Dr Victor Iyama, explained was the failure of the Presidential Initiative on Rubber, launched in 2006 to promote increased production and processing of rubber locally.
He indicated that country is yet to fully utilise its exporting potential, which could earn it more forex in an era of scarce foreign exchange.
The Initiative was aimed at increasing production through resuscitation of plantations, establishment of new plantation to expand the number of hectares under cultivation, promotion of yield improvement using improved clones and to address technological and socio economic constraints militating against increased productivity, diversification of local use of rubber and to expand the market through provision of infrastructure and exploring more local and overseas market.
However, Iyama told The Nation that the National Rubber Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NARPPMAN) has intensified efforts to increase local production and boost the country’s export potential.
Currently, only about 40 per cent of Nigeria rubber potential is being exploited, due to abandonment and felling of trees, particularly, by smallholders for seemingly more lucrative annual food crop production. Recently, NARPPMAN appealed to the Federal Government to enlist rubber as one of the cash crops to be developed in Nigeria. Its President, Mr. Peter Igbinosun said that government intervention in robber production was paramount, considering its enormous by-products and economic values. In view of these economic values, he said that NARPPMAN “is planning massive rubber cultivation with a view to creating 640,000 direct jobs’’. He also said that 160,000 people would be indirectly employed as service providers under the scheme. He said NARPPMAN would plant rubber in 160,000 hectares of rubber plantation in 24 states across the country in the next ten years. According to him, presently, Nigeria has about 200,000 hectares of rubber plantation in the hands of smallholders and industrial plantations. Igbinosun said that the rubber industry alone could provide over 800,000 employment, making it “a goldmine’’.
Nigeria exports of rubber have been on the low side since 2009, according to data provided by the International Trade Centre’s – Trade Map. In 2009, Nigeria exported rubber and articles worth $175,452,000. The value increased to $558,945,000 in 2010. It was $7,455,527,000 in 2011, $10,102,281,000 in 2012, $2,399,602,000 in 2013; $ 92,020,000 in 2014; $63,417,000 in 2015, $ 40,280,000 in 2016; $ 55,253,000 in 2017, $ 41,978,000 in 2018, $ $42,080,000 in 2019 and $21,063,000 in 2020.
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