BusinessDay

Presco seeks support for Oil Palm research, smallholder farmers

One of Nigeria’s leading crude palm oil producers, Presco Plc has appealed to relevant Government agencies to support Oil Palm research as part of measures to boost export and economic development.

Addressing major stakeholders on Monday at one of Presco’s plantation at Ologbo, Edo State, as part of activities lined up to mark ‘Seed Evidence Day,’ Felix Nwabuko, Managing Director, Presco Plc explained that smallholder and outgrower farmers are very critical to the development of the sector.

According to Nwabuko, challenges posed by inadequate land for large scale expansion has made collaboration with Small Holders imperative.

He commended efforts by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to sustain growth in the sector, adding that “research is the way to go”.

Also speaking at the event, Edo State Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security, Stephen Idehenre, said the state government is working in collaboration with Presco and other stakeholders to produce quality seedlings for Nigeria and the international market.

In his submission, Emmanel Ojewere, President, Nigeria Agric Business Group described oil Palm as the future of Nigeria and Africa.

Reinout Impens, Research and Development Manager, Siat Group who spoke on the outcome of research conducted with partners said the development boost growth and sustains profitability.

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According to him, to support sustain such progress the Siat group started a 20-year collaboration with CIRAD, PalmElit and INRAB in 2007, pointing out that the “Genetic Block Project”, implemented in Presco plc saw the establishment of progeny trials covering some 500 hectares.

”Such material can only be developed and obtained through breeding and selection involving long term concerted and committed efforts from breeders, research institutes and private actors.

“Most trials aim to determine the breeding values of parents for a new generation of planting material.

“Other trials are part of larger international efforts to improve drought resistance and fertilizer use efficiency both critical for long term resilience in the lights of climate change and growing resource scarcity.

“Moreover, the project further enables a diversification of disease resistant planting material as well as the introduction of additional traits of interest.

“This project, developed in Africa and one of the largest of its kind in the world, engages over 120 full time workers to monitor the growth, production, and oil extraction rate components.

“Results indicate that oil yield of over 5t/ha can sustainably be achieved in Africa (against a global average of around 4t/ha and well above the 1t/ha averaged in Nigeria).

“These efforts, by ensuring perpetual progress in genetic potential and regional adaptation, not only provide the Siat group with guaranties regarding the quality of planting materials used but also safeguard the sustainable growth of the African oil palm industry in general, primarily by increasing yield and thus reducing the need for land conversion or deforestation”.

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