Plant it now and the journey of a 70-year harvest will start after four years.
Considered the “tree of life,” it has the potential to help families remain strong financially for generations.
The story of the collapse of oil palm production in Nigeria is linked to the discovery of crude oil which shifted the attention of government at all levels to crude oil.
However, farmers said there was no crude oil well that could be drilled for 70 years, but every oil palm tree could be harvested every year for over 70 years; far above the average life expectancy (46 years) of most Nigerians.
The President of the National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN), Mr. Alphonsus Inyang, in an interview with Daily Trust, spoke on the efforts to enable the country take its rightful place again in the oil palm industry.
Mr. Inyang said, “What we want to do differently is to work with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the federal and state governments to develop at least N100,000 hectares of oil palm plantation in each of the 24 states with comparable advantage in oil palm production.”
Some of the about 260,000 registered members of NPPAN appealed to the apex bank to reconsider its development initiative towards the industry, which they argued, at present, favoured multinational processors more than smallholder farmers, who were at the bottom of the development index in the sector.
The journey so far
Mr. Inyang said, “What we have tried to do as an association is to intensify the issue of attracting youths and women into the oil palm value chain. We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) to get seedlings. Right now we have started receiving the sprouted nuts for this year that we are going to develop into nursery to be transplanted next year.
“We are looking at 10 million seedlings that we would start transplanting from next year; and what we do is that we make these seedlings available to them.
“If you tell farmers to go into oil palm and then one seedling costs N1,000, or N1,500, which means you need N150,000 per hectare, how many of them have this money? Don’t forget that the crop will have to wait for four years to be harvested commercially. So we need to see how to bring inputs at subsided rates to them, and that is the MOU we signed with NIFOR; to supply us with hybrid seedlings. Then we expect the CBN to also come in with fertilisers, pesticides, insecticides and herbicides to assist these smallholder farmers to grow this tree of life.”
A farmer in Kaduna State, Mikah Sule Adamu, said effort was being intensified to scale up production in all the potential northern states.
Adamu said there were farmers in southern Kaduna with over 10,000 oil palm trees in their farms and that many more were raising plantations.
FG steps in
Earlier this week, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, in Kaduna State, flagged off the distribution of inputs to farmer groups and associations for the wet season. Oil palm seedlings were among the inputs distributed.
Alhaji Sabo said the distribution of the seedlings was part of the government’s effort to drive change in oil palm production across the country.