PZ Wilmar, a joint venture of PZ and Wilmar international is set to invest $640 million to help revive the already diminishing palm oil industry in Nigeria.
The project which is self funded has delivered a 1,000 tons daily capacity refinery in Ikorodu, Lagos and is also poised to amass a 50,000 hectares of plantation said Christos Giannopoulos, Chief Executive Officer, PZ Cussons.
He stressed that the company’s desire to veer into palm oil production was orchestrated by the desire to fill the significant demand gap in Nigeria’s palm oil market which is currently filled by finished products smuggled into the country.
He lamented the country’s export of only seven percent of palm oil in comparison to its 82 percent export in the 60’s, a phenomenon he believes PZ Wilmar would address.
“The project will create new income, new markets for local industries and job opportunities for indigenous communities”, said Giannopoulos According to him over 12,000 and 33,000 direct jobs and indirect jobs will be created respectively at various skill levels.
Continuing, he said that over 600,000 high yield plants have been transplanted, while 2.1 million seedlings are at four nursery sites across the site within a palm nursery.
The project also includes a current training school located in Mbarakom, Cross-River, for training of extension workers in modern farming practices.
Giannopoulos noted that the project will also deliver Nigerians with fresh palm oil which is currently lacking in the market as most palm oil are imported into the country, a process which lasts over a period of three months before getting to the final consumer.
“Our 1000 tons capacity refinery located in Lagos is a world class refinery designed to provide Nigerians with pure palm oil”, said Emmanuel Kattie, Supply Chain Director, PZ Wilmer.
“We will also ensure we maintain high quality control standards in our refinery to meet up with best standard in the world,” he added.