A Bill for an Act for the establishment of National Tea and Coffee Development Council to promote the cultivation, production and marketing of tea and coffee in the country has passed second reading in Senate.
This followed the presentation of the lead debate on the general principles of the bill by the sponsor, Sen. Yusuf Yusuf (APC-Taraba), during the plenary on Thursday.
Presenting the bill, Yusuf said that the bill was first read in the chamber on Tuesday, April 25, 2017.
According to him, its speedy passage would promote rapid economic diversification via the agricultural sector and enhance revenue generation.
“There is no doubt that passage of this bill will improve the performance and growth of the nation’s economy, reduce the over-dependence on oil export so as to further exploit the country’s vast agricultural potential.
“Some parts of the country are favourably endowed with suitable climate and soil conditions that could be harnessed for commercial cultivation of coffee.
“States like Taraba, Plateau and Cross River are favourably endowed with the suitable climate and soil conditions that could be harnessed for commercial cultivation of tea, especially around the Mambilla Plateau and Obudu Ranch.
“It is regrettable that governments have not made any major impact, in terms of active involvement and/or participating in tea and coffee growth, production and marketing sectors of the economy.
“The only government presence in the development of tea production could be traced to the mid-1970s.
“That was when government entered into joint venture with some states governments and private entrepreneurs to set up a tea farm and factory in Taraba,’’ Yusuf said.
The senator said that the National Tea and Coffee Development Council Bill 2017 sought to, among others, establish an authority that would be saddled with the responsibility of assisting farmers to set up out growers, tea and coffee factories.
Contributing, Sen. Smart Adeyemi (APC-Kogi) said that the bill, when passed, would help in diversifying the economy.
“The reality staring us in our face in this generation is that there is the need for us to think of how we should diversify our economy; more importantly now that the world is talking about renewable energy.
“There is the need for us to diversify to other means of generating foreign exchange. There are many untapped resources in the country.
“Any bill that is aimed at providing job opportunities for our teeming unemployed deserves more than support,’’ he said.
In his remarks, President of the Senate, Sen. Ahmad Lawan, said that investments in such areas as tea and coffee production, processing and marketing would help to achieve the desired impact on the country’s economy.