Palm oil is a common ingredient in many food products. It is used as cooking oil, shortenings, margarine and feedstock.
The international oil palm market, according to analysts, is worth over $62 billion yearly, underscoring the commodity’s significance and multiple utility.
Analysts said oil palm produces nearly four tonnes of oil per hectare, which is five times higher than rapeseed, sunflower, and soybean yields. It has the highest yield of any oil crop.
However, its production is facing challenges amid rising demand from the food, energy, and industrial sectors. According to analysts, major palm oil producers have not been able to increase their yields due to ageing trees and diseases.
Nigeria’s oil palm industry’s contribution to global market share is 1.40 percent as of 2018, according to data from the United States’ Department of Agriculture.
The Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) estimated that upstream palm oil production is 0.98 million tonnes. Total domestic edible oil production is at 1.5 million tonnes.
Speaking with The Nation, the President, National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN), Mr. Alphonsus Inyang, explained that oil palm could become a money spinner with growing global demand for it as an input for food products, cosmetics, animal feed, and bio-energy, among others.
He lamented, however, that there was lack of support to boost production to meet demand. He noted that the sector was not contributing to the gross national productivity. He listed ageing trees as one factor hindering the industry.
If repositioned, Inyang said oil palm could enrich the nation’s coffers. He stressed that making Nigeria self-reliant in edible oil production is a mission that needed to be accomplished.
He added that Nigeria possessed the wherewithal for self-sustenance, urging the government to implement a comprehensive and time-bound strategy to provide stimulus to the growth of the edible oilseed economy.
He called for support to increase production of vegetable oils sourced from oil seeds and oil palm, to reduce their import.
To change the fortunes of the industry, Inyang said farmers needed improved seeds and better management practices.
According to him, the association was working with the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) to mass produce high-yielding oil palm seeds that will start bearing fruits in two years.
This is to enable farmers to increase yields to the highest levels in the industry, without increasing land under cultivation. He reiterated that the new executive of the association was working on the development of the industry.
He solicited for information, suggestions and ideas from members/stakeholders that could move the association forward.
He said the election into state chapters executives council would be conducted before April. Inyang said he would collaborate with industry stakeholders, such as Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, NIFOR, Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), state governments, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), NAFDAC, in developing the industry and supporting smallholders farmers.
The outgoing National President, Chief Henry Olatujoye, appreciated the Federation Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria (FACAN) National President, Dr. Victor Iyama, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and NIFOR, for their support to the association.
He praised the Akwa Ibom State Government for hosting the First International Conference on Oil Palm in 2013 (IPPC 2013) in Uyo, which was attended by many countries.
He acknowledged the contribution of the Ondo State Government to the development of oil palm sector.
The new National Executive Council are Inyang; Vice-President (Southeast), Standard Igwe; Vice President (Southsouth), Harrison Okpamen;Vice President (Southwest), Omiyale Abiodun; Vice President (Northcentral), Hassan Wada; National General Secretary, Kayode Babatola; Assistant General Secretary, Victor Atu; National Treasurer, Bobade Adebayo; National Financial Secretary, Adaugo Obi; Public Relations Officer, Bernadette Enanem; Ex-Officios – Steve Eghen and Amos Gandu.