The Oil Palm Growers Association of Nigeria (OPGAN) and Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR), in collaboration with Cross River State government, will soon begin to refine palm oil for export from Calabar, the state capital.
National President of OPGAN, Chief Joe Onyiuke, disclosed this in Calabar.
He said the partnership would create an oil palm revolution across the entire value chain and would involve the establishment and management of nurseries, plantations, logistics, processing/milling, storage.
According to Onyiuke, the collaboration would also include refining, manufacturing, sales/distribution and access to local and international markets to be jointly executed with NIFOR.
He said they want to create the largest sustainable small holder oil palm economy in Africa.
“It is important to note that Nigeria is the world’s fifth-largest oil palm producer but is a net importer of the commodity as it has huge local demand gulping about 500 million dollars annually, according to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“The Nigerian palm oil industry is very fragmented and dominated by numerous small-scale farmers, who account for 80 percent of local production and most of these farmers do not have access to improved seedlings/inputs and are not attuned to modern farming practices, meaning their yields and outputs are lower than it could otherwise be.
“Cross River State has always been a fertile environment for oil palm development and it is time for Cross River State to build coherent oil palm programs to regain its pre-eminent position as the number one oil palm state in the country.”
He said there are numerous activities in oil palm value chain and its socio-economic impact is humongous.
He called for synergy to harness the abundant human resources in the state, especially women and youths to key into this oil palm revolution.
He confirmed that NIFOR will set up a permanent base in the state as the collaboration is for the long haul.
“The permanent presence of NIFOR in the state will simply make it easier for training/building the much-needed local capacity that will ensure sustainability and revolutionize the palm fruits business.
“Together, palm fruit business will build and strengthen the component parts as well as the whole value chain which is an important aspect of the livelihood of the rural farmers and the state GDP, thereby promoting community stability and reduction in rural-urban migration,” he explained.
He lauded the government partnership with the association and NIFOR, adding that the move would trigger an oil palm model that would be the envy of other states.
He said the surplus availability of fresh fruit bunches is the only thing that can put the state back on the national and global map, adding that investors and industries go where the base raw materials needed for their production are found in commercial quantity.