The Federal Ministry of Agriculture has earmarked the sum of N86.5 million for the promotion and cultivation of ‘ogbono’, a local ingredient for ‘draw’ soup in many parts of Nigeria.
Ogbono (irvingia gabonensis) is a household name in many Nigerian kitchens. It is one of the most expensive ingredients in making ‘draw’ soup used in many parts of the country.
The trees, which are described as “African wild mango,” “bush mango” or “ogbono,” are commonly found in the south-east and south-south parts of the country. The tree produces the fruit that is a veritable source of income to many people in those parts of the country.
It is a mango-shaped fruit which, when it ripens, fall from the tree where is gathered and broken after the fruit rots to remove the seeds which is the ogbono used in making ‘draw’ soup.
Although few farmers are now beginning to cultivate the fruit, it is largely found in the wild where locals spend days and weeks collecting the fruits to extract the seeds, dry and sell them in markets across the country.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, last year at different platforms, stressed the need to promote the development of the fruit in Nigeria, adding that the market potentials were promising in the United States of America and Europe.
The appearance of the ogbono fruit in the budget, therefore, reaffirms the minister’s position on the promotion and development of the bush mango in Nigeria.
The fruit takes many years to produce according to a farmer, Ejim Benard, who has three of the trees in front of his compound in Bekwarra, Cross River State.
Although locals said the trees can live up to 40 years or more, however, the period for its maturity (which some said takes between six to eight years) puts many farmers away from growing the ogbono producing plant.
A cup of ogbono, which can serve a family of 10 people, costs between N500 to N600 in some markets in Abuja.
A measure of ogbono which contains eight cups is valued between N4,000 to N4,800, while a 100kg bag costs between N50,000 to N60,000. The prices of the product could costs more in the international markets.