Okra (okro) is a big part of traditional cuisine in many parts of Nigeria. The vegetable features in dishes consumed by people in locations as far apart as Lagos and Kano. Many recognize its value in the slimy characteristic it brings to traditional soups.
The widespread consumption of okra in Nigeria is helped by farmers who grow the crop throughout the country. Each year, they harvest millions of tons of green okra pods and get them sold at local food markets.
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They are actually putting out more of the vegetable than most farmers elsewhere in the world. According to data from 2018, Nigeria’s annual okra output tops 2.03 million tonnes. That’s the second-highest amount of any country on the planet. Only India manages a larger number.
This is significant for at least one reason: Nigeria isn’t the only country that loves its okra. You will find the vegetable in dishes from the Caribbean, India, Japan, and even the United States. The fact that Nigeria grows more of the crop than these other regions hints at how important it is to its people.
There are other uses for okra besides its place in soups and salads. In industry, fibre from the plant’s stem is a raw material used for reinforcing polymer composites; there are other emerging applications for derivatives from the plants.
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Okra seeds can also be roasted, ground up, and used as a substitute for coffee. The absence of caffeine in this substance makes it an attractive choice for many people.
There’s a growing international market for okra seeds. Currently valued at about $252.4 million, the market is expected to be worth 349.2 million by 2026- expanding at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5.6%.
Nigeria could gain from this trend if it takes advantage of the export potential of okra. However, it’s still currently preoccupied with meeting local demand. It also has to overcome problems with the storage and preservation of the crop.
Regardless of the present challenges, the country still has a chance to make the most of the world’s growing appetite for okra and its derivatives. Fixing incentives, preservation, and value addition will be key to making this happen.
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