In its commitment to the diversification of the productive base of the Nigerian economy, away from the oil sector, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council NEPC on recently held a one day capacity workshop to position the oil palm sub sector in cross River State.
Olusegun Awolowo, executive director of the NEPC said in the country imported 450,000 tons of palm oil to the tune of N116.3billion in 2017, which he noted is worrisome because of Nigeria’s previous position in the commit of global oil palm producing countries.
Awolowo said this in a keynote address at a one day capacity building workshop to encourage oil palm export in cross River State.
The chief executive officer who was represented by Emmanuel Etim, trade promotion advisor, Calabar office at the event said the annual oil palm demand of Nigeria currently stands at about 2.5 million metric tons whereas local production stands at 1.25 million tons, leaving a gap of 1.25 tons.
He says it was on that note that about N30 billion is being made available to stakeholders by the central Bank of Nigeria CBN to develop the sector.
According to Awolowo, apart from the ever growing demand, oil palm produce are highly priced globally, especially in non-producers.
He added that Cross River has huge oil palm potential across the 18 local government areas, stressing that the crop is category ‘A’ strategic export produce in the priority sectors in the zero oil plan.
Emmanuel Etim whose address was read by Ella Onoja assistant director at NEPC disclosed that the one day capacity building workshop on the is directed towards achieving greater output for export.
In a good will message Eta Ndoma Ndoma President Calabar Chamber of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture said Nigeria is the 5th largest producer of the crop globally, with an annual production of 970, metric tons annually and the state is second to largest producer after Edo State
Ndoma whose good will message was read by Kenneth Asim Ita the executive secretary of the Chamber further disclosed that Cross River state produced over 200,000 metric tons of palm oil per annum with over 18,000 farmers involved in oil Palm cultivation.
Owali Illem, chairman of Oil Palm Growers Association said the decline of oil palm production since the end of the civil war has been fast.
According to him, we are now depending on imports to satisfy our domestic needs.
He said in 2015, Nigeria had spent about N59.1billion per annum in importing the produce.
MIKE ABANG, Calabar