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By NBF News
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NIGERIA has taken a major step towards the development of a national policy on tea and other related issues, in line with operating regime in other tea-producing and exporting countries like India, China, Kenya, Tanzania and Sri-Lanka.

Recently in Abuja, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) brought together experts and stakeholders to consider the draft document, make the necessary inputs to enable it formulate a draft tea policy and address other issues that militate against Nigeria's ability to harness its full potentials in tea production.

In a speech at the stakeholders forum, Executive Director of NEPC, Dr. David Adulugba, noted that the development of the tea industry had huge potentials for the nation's economy and its people.

His words: 'We are aware of the great challenges facing the growth of tea industry in Nigeria, especially in the only tea-growing area, the Mambilla Plateau. Apart from energy challenges, the Mambilla tea production is also faced with declining capacity utilisation as the two existing tea processing factories namely Nigerian Beverages Production Company Limited and Nguroje Nigeria Limited are almost moribund. They have management, financial challenges and use of obsolete technologies, among others.

'Having realised these numerous challenges facing the tea industry in Nigeria, the great export potentials in the sector and the need to find a lasting solution, the Council decided to extend the invitation to this forum to key institutions such as the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), the chambers of commerce in the country, investors, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), whom we understand had already been working toward addressing the energy problem in Nigeria.'

Speaking on the potentials in the tea industry, he added: 'We all as a nation, especially Taraba and Adamawa states stand to gain tremendously from the huge potentials that could accrue to this country from the export of tea. If other tea producing nations that are not as endowed as the Mambilla in tea production could earn much revenue in foreign exchange, why not Nigeria.'

He was optimistic that at the end of the deliberations, the challenges confronting the Nigeria tea industry would addressed and a tea policy developed.