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Untapped Opportunities For Poverty Reduction In Bio-Plastics

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Agriculture remains a dominant sector in the short and long term development of the Nigerian economy. It has the potentials of ensuring food security, creating employments, reducing crime and poverty, as well as guarantee sustainable environment through “green civilisation” which is the process of transforming agro products into industrial finished goods.
Bio Plastic i.e. the production of degradable plastics from starch and other agricultural raw materials is one of the untapped opportunities begging for attention. Plastics have been gaining prominence in the economy because of its multifarious purposes (packaging, as construction materials, automobile, furniture and electronics, and for various types of domestic products) and wide consumption all over the world. 50 million varieties of plastics were consumed in 1976, 330 million in 2015, while its consumption increases on daily basis. Plastics have become major sources of employment to workers in the plastic and allied industries.
Nigeria have comparative advantage in agriculture as her real productive sector, with job creating abilities, the development of rural communities, mitigating urban problems export activities. Raw materials are sourced through agriculture, therefore to obtain easy access to it; development of rural communities cannot be over-emphasised. Most plastics produced in the 20th century are sourced from petroleum products but are no longer sustainable. Renewable raw materials from plants and food crops have been developed to produce bio-degradable plastics. It is capable of minimising plastic wastes both at production and usage levels.
They can also enhance the growth of small and medium scale enterprises through which farmers and youths can generate income and create avenue for employment. With the prospects of biogenic raw materials for plastic production, new technologies will emerge, be promoted and adopted through agricultural education, research and training, and provision of infrastructures in rural communities. Value chain helps firms to develop their indigenous capabilities to help local firms transfer new technology, skills and knowledge. Producers need to imbibe better technology to improve efficiency, the quality and functionality of a product through upgrading by using higher quality material or an improved quality management system (QMS).
The foregoing portends a huge market for bio degradable plastic from Nigeria. To have easy access to bio raw materials, there is need to develop agriculture with the supports of policies and initiatives. Value chains activities have to be introduced for the purpose of making agricultural produce a ready source of acquiring raw materials for industrial development. Jobs can be created through the value chain by giving skills to small and medium entrepreneurs on how to transform raw materials to valuable products for foreign exchange earnings and poverty reduction. Production of bio-plastics (PLA) will be a better alternative to BPA plastics and will be an avenue of minimising health hazard derivable from BPA plastics. Our agricultural sectors can become a ready source of obtaining raw materials for the development of industries and means of creating job opportunities for the unemployed youths in the Nigerian society.

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