By Joy Obanya
Alhaji Lawan Ali, Chairman, Electoral Committee of Charcoal Association in Nigeria, has called for deeper diplomatic ties between Russia and Nigeria to boost charcoal trade.
Ali told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Friday that this has become important because Russia has the biggest market for charcoal, therefore, the need for both countries to deepen their ties.
He spoke against the backdrop of the official ceremony of the Adoption of Constitution/Formal Election of Executives of the National Association of Charcoal Producers, Dealers, Exporters and Afforestation of Nigeria (NACPDEAN).
He noted that there was a ban on the exportation of charcoal, but appealed to the Federal Government to deepen its economic ties with Russia to boost the nation’s economy.
Ali said: “I never knew the usefulness of charcoal except it is in Nigeria that people use it to cook and warm their rooms and that is before I travelled to Russia.
“But, when I was opportune to be in Russia, it was a different thing; a friend in Russia gave me this charcoal medicinal tablet. I do not know whether there was an added thing to it or not, they call it charcoal tabs.
“I was given the tablet when I was there, to my surprise I asked them if it is the Nigeria black charcoal that I know and they said yes.
“Russia is a very big market for Nigerian charcoal; they told me that they are using Nigeria charcoal, apart from warming their rooms, they are making it into tablets.”
He disclosed that Russia has a large population of Nigerian charcoal consumers.
According to him, some people are exporting Nigerian charcoal to Russia and Russians are very big consumers of charcoal, so the market opportunity is huge.
“I am urging our charcoal producers and exporters to explore the market opportunity,” he added.
The President of the association, Mr Tunde Edun, assured that NACPDEAN would sensitise people on the proper ways of felling trees.
According to him, key players in the charcoal business are the producers, adding that more will be done to collate their data to achieve desired goals to sensitise them.
“These days people fell economic trees, which is not meant to be. There will be lot of capacity building on educating stakeholders at the grassroots level.
“We have the mango tree, Shea butter tree and several economic trees that people fell and you cannot blame them, because a lot of them are illiterates.
“They will need educational training to let them know the tress to cut and the ones that they shouldn’t,” Edun said.
He urged that for every felled tree, there should be replacement, saying it is the reason the association had afforestation attached to their name.
On his part, the Secretary of the association, Mr Kingsley Amadi, identified afforestation to be major focus of NACPDEAN.
“We are not just about felling trees, but we are more focused on reproduction of trees and planting,” Amadi said.
Meanwhile, Mr Suleiman Audu, the Director, Commodities and Export department in the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, urged the newly elected officials to live up to the operational objectives of the association.
Audu, represented by Mr Jude Amalunweze, the Chief Commercial Officer in the ministry, said: “I urge you to carry other members along in discharge of your duties.
“The election to this position is a call to national service and calls for sacrifice; I advise you to support the elected executives, so that the goals as stated in the constitution will be achieved.”
He, however, assured the association of the ministry’s support to enable them carry out their duties with ease.
NAN reports that the election was conducted at the premises of the ministry in conjunction with the Federation of Agricultural Commodity Associations of Nigeria (FACAN). (NAN)