NIGERIA -The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has committed about N30 billion (US$82m) to enhance Oil-palm production in the country aimed at closing the demand gap of palm oil which currently stands at 1.25million metric tonnes per annum.

The fund was disbursed through deposit money banks to six oil palm companies to support their expansion programmes.

The companies targeted by the initiative are PZ Wimar, Biase oil company ltd, Eyop, Okomu Oil company, Presco oil company and SIAT ltd and an added application for Ada Palm Imo State is being expected.

According to the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, the annual demand for palm oil in the country stands at 2.5 million metric tons of which only 1.25million metric tons is being produced locally leaving a gap of 1.25million metric tonnes per annum which is currently being met through imports

Closing the identified gap would require bringing about 312,500 hectares under modern cultivation at an estimated yield of four metric tons per hectare.

The CBN Governor disclosed that about 40 applications from investors across the country for the cultivation of 126,694 hectares were being considered.

In addition to that 14 State Governors pledged to make available 100,000 hectares of land in each state.

The bank currently has a total of 904,624 hectares which are available in the states for allocation and investors have been matched with the States of interest to process necessary documentation and titling requirement.

“The investors are to be funded from the bank’s intervention programme and some of the states are however slow in making the land available to these investors,” Mr. Godwin stated.

The bank’s target is to ensure that a minimum of 1.4 million hectares of land is put under oil palm cultivation in three years.

To boost the project Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR), oil palm research institute in Nigeria is being rejuvenated in collaboration with the leading oil palm major companies to meet the seedling needs of investors in the sub-sector.