Nigeria is set to host the first international conference on palm produce, Samuel Ortom, minister of state for industry trade and investment, said in Abuja on Thursday.
He made the statement during stakeholders meeting towards the successful hosting of the first International Palm Produce Conference (IPPC) held at the ministry’s headquarters, Abuja.
This is coming on the heels of Plantation Owners Forum of Nigeria’s (POFON’s) campaign for government support for local producers of oil palm. POFON wants high tariff placed on importation of palm oil and government has listening ears.
Minister of agriculture and rural development argued in Abuja recently: “The fact that we are having a discussion on whether we should lower the tariff, so that we could be importing, makes absolutely no sense. Some make a case for those who need palm oil for processing.
We are already paying a higher price because we have rising unemployment in our rural areas; we are spending a hard-earned foreign exchange in importing. We are paying a higher price, the livelihoods of rural areas producing palm oil are threatened. We are paying a higher price because the naira is weakened anytime we are importing. I am against reduction of tariff from 35 percent, because every country must do what is in its interest. We cannot revive our rural areas if we are opening up our markets for everyone to dump every junk.”
In his address read by the permanent secretary, Dauda Kigbu, Ortom said the inability of meeting local demand in palm oil production was a clear indication that the fortunes of the Palm Oil Sub-Sector have declined significantly.
In his word: “It is in this regard, that the National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN) in collaboration with my ministry proposed to organise a conference to serve as a platform for interaction with stakeholders in the oil palm industry globally, to review and widen contacts as well as foster developmental strategies to address the entire oil palm value-chain with stakeholders in order to resuscitate the lost glory of the oil palm industry in Nigeria.”