NIGERIA – The Edo State Government has partnered with the Central Bank of Nigeria and farmers in the revival of the Urhonigbe oil palm belt at a cost of N91.3 billion (about US$253.04 million).
A statement from the Edo state government revealed that the amount for the palm project was jointly made available by the Central Bank of Nigeria and private investors.
The funds according to the statement will be used to for the cultivation of oil palm on 51.8 hectares in Urhonigbe, Orhionmwon Local Government Area of the state, under the first phase of the Edo State Oil Palm Programme.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security Programme, Joe Okojie, revealed that out of the total investment of N91.3bn, the CBN provided N68.8bn (about US$190.68 million), while farmers would contribute N22.5bn (about US$62.36 million).
Okojie said the state government was currently in talks with the Partnerships for Forests to support the financing for farmers.
He further noted that the implementation committee for the programme would be set up in a week’s time to kickstart land allocation to investors.
According to Okojie, 120,000 hectares of land had been acquired for the programme in Orhionmwon, Uhunmwonde, Ovia North East and Ovia South West Local Government Areas of the state.
He further explained that that farmers would be paired with investors in a ratio of 30 per cent small and medium scale farmers to 70 per cent oil palm investors.
“It will be a cluster type of farming. Investors will get between 5,000 to 10,000 hectares each. The investors will get 70 per cent of the land and allocate 30 per cent to small and medium scale farmers,” noted Okojie.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Nigeria was a leader in the world palm oil market. The production of palm oil exceeded the domestic consumption and the excess was exported to the world palm oil market.
However, during the past decades, the country has become an importer of palm oil. While in the early 1960s, Nigeria’s palm oil production accounted for 43% of the world production, nowadays it only accounts for 7% of total global output.
Despite sharp declines in palm oil production in Nigeria, World demand for vegetable oils has been rising sharply.
Demand is estimated to reach 150 million tons in 2020, as the world population continues to grow and the standards of living increase in many developing countries.
The role of oil palm as a supply of relatively inexpensive and versatile edible oil is thus, expected to become ever more prominent.
Nigeria therefore, stands to benefit if it succeeds in increasing the amount of oil palm that it produces.