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Nigeria ranks 5th in oil palm production

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By Mercy Kelani

Edo State Oil Palm Production Programme (ESOPP) to provide 5000 jobs.

The formulation of a policy that will promote the development of the palm oil industry should be enforced by President Tinubu beyond the restriction of the importation. The Nigerian Ex-President Buhari was called on concerning the requirement to restore the declining Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) in Benin State to enhance production of quality oil palm seeds and aid investment in research. Importantly, it is required that NIFOR is given a new mandate which will promote meaningful investment and incentives to the industry and business for job creation to the people.

In agriculture, almost $500 million investment has been attracted by Edo State into the cultivation of this product as it allocated the first phase of 60, 000 hectares of land as a part of the Edo State Oil Palm Production Programme (ESOPP). Fayus Nigeria Limited has begun a 3,000-hectare plantation in Ugbeturu community, Owan West Local Council, as part of Edo State Government’s initiative expansion of the product’s revolution, with a motive to establish 5,000 job opportunities in the community. The project is commissioned under ESOPP and is ranked as the largest project of the development of the produce in Africa; it is supported by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to oversee development of more than 100,000 hectares of land in the state.

During the 1960s, Nigeria used to be a top producing country.

However, there have been a decrease in the production of oil palm in Nigeria, especially now that the global demand for the produce has increased greatly. Statistically, oil palm demands has increased between 1964 and 2018 from 1.2 million metric tonnes to more than 73.3 million metric tonnes, while Malaysia and Indonesia are the two top countries currently in the industry, growing more than 60 percent of the produce’s trees worldwide. Nigeria is currently ranked as the 5th in its production globally. This is in contrast to the 1960s rank as the top producing country, which makes it difficult to meet export and local demands now.

Concerns for environmental compliance, high cost of production, infrastructural deficiency, poor access to finance, low yields, high domestic price and subsistent nature of cultivation are major challenges attacking the sector in Nigeria. It is required that President Tinubu initiates a strategic and fresh mandate to NIFOR for easy access to modern technology by the smallholders whose efficiency have been demonstrated to produce large-scale plantations. National and local representative agencies are growing in stature and scale to provide required voices for smallholders in wider policy dialogue and immediate business negotiations.

Actual progress will require action from many stakeholders.

Apparently, the current obstacle is to distribute good practice more globally. Actual progress will require action from many stakeholders, including plantation and milling companies, traders and retailers, NGOs, banks, insurance agencies, government agencies, and smallholders’ associations to build and try different mechanisms that can aid equity and sustainability in palm oil production. Also, fresh mandate from President Tinubu to NIFOR is needed to help smallholders, growers, who acquire support from the private sector or government, through the provision of loan, pesticides, fertilizers, seed stock and technical assistance, and to those that cultivate without assistance from private sectors and government.

A new mandate is required from the president to NIFOR to bridge the efficiency gap between smallholders and large plantations in order to increase the annual yields and keep the cost of inputs low. Nevertheless, there is a wide variation in results and practice, depending how important the produce is to their income strategy. Assisted farmers progressively achieve more yields than independent growers, certainly because of better quality of access to seed stock, while independent smallholders can achieve better returns on investments. While keeping up with autonomy and local choice, farmers encounter quite a number of restraints in expanding their efficiency from palm oil production.

Securing capital is needed to meet the upfront expenses.

Nevertheless, there are innovations to combat problems and develop the contribution of smallholders to sustain the production of palm oil. Securing capital is another mandate that is needed to meet the upfront expenses. In addition, good technical and  policy market information are also required through a fresh mandate. Other difficulties are fundamental rights and options under national law or formal agreements, technical aspects of production and site management, market opportunities, and access to trustworthy information – on prices and pricing policies. The responses to these problems are international agencies and access-to-information services from NGOs, however, there is a geographical specificity to their reach.

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