Nigeria can earn over $20bn from oil palm yearly – Obaseki
Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, on Thursday, revealed that his government has allocated over 57,000 hectares of land to smallholders and large oil palm plantation investors in four local government areas of the state, under the Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP).
The governor equally said that the Nigerian oil palm economy has the capability of earning over $20 billion for the country annually from cultivation and production.
According to him, Nigeria is currently Africa’s largest oil palm producer and the 5th in the world, with almost 2.5 million hectares of land under cultivation in Nigeria. However, we still import over N90 billion worth of oil palm produce annually into this country.
Obaseki said the low prices of crude oil and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the importance and urgency for Nigeria to diversify its economy and create alternative sources of revenue.
The governor, while delivering a keynote address at the National Initiative for Sustainable and Climate-Smart Oil Palm Smallholders (NI-SCOPS) round table, in Benin City, said as a result of the huge potential in oil palm, his administration has supported investors through the provision of land and a business-friendly environment to boost their investment and increase production of oil palm.
He listed the local government areas they have allocated land to include Orhionmwon, Ovia-North East, Owan-West and Uhunmwonde, adding that “this is the first phase, as we are still looking for more land in the Ovia axis and as soon as this is completed, we will commence the second phase of allocation.
“In the first phase, we allocated 25 per cent to smallholders while large estate holders were allocated the balance 75 per cent of the total allocation.”
“Some of the allottees have taken possession of their land and concluding their community action programme. We believe that by the time all the necessary things have been done, cultivation will commence before the end of the year.
“The contributions of smallholder farmers in the oil palm sector cannot be overemphasized, as smallholder farmers account for over 60 percent of crude oil palm produced globally,” Obaseki said.
He added that to effectively and efficiently encourage investors, the state launched the Edo State Oil Palm Programme, in partnership with other private sector stakeholders, including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Under the programme, Obaseki said the CBN committed about N69 billion to support investors who invested in oil palm in Edo State, in line with the federal government’s determination to diversify the nation’s economy.
Earlier, Chris Okafor, representative of IDH noted that “the IDH-Nigeria value proposition for NI-SCOPS is that by simultaneously addressing multiple factors that impede oil palm landscape development and growth, through a multi-partner and stakeholder processes, a lasting transformation can be achieved in livelihood of smallholders in an environmentally-friendly and socially responsible manner.