Eta Ndoma-Egba, the president of Calabar Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (CALCIMA), says Cross River State’s 2018 production level of over 200,000 metric tonnes of palm oil per annum (mtpa) on 360,000 hectares under cultivation, involving over 18,000 farmers, makes the state primed to access the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) ongoing N30 billion palm oil expansion scheme.
Egba spoke during a training for palm oil value chain stakeholders by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) in Calabar, saying that there was critical need for Nigeria to upgrade its present palm oil output level, so as to reap big from the $20 billion global palm oil market.
Cross River, with over 200,000 mtpa places second after Edo State among Nigeria’s palm oil producing areas. Nigeria is currently the 5th largest palm oil producer globally, with an annual production of a little above one million metric tonnes annually.
Meanwhile, the executive director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Olusegun Awolowo said in 2017, Nigeria imported 450,000 tonnes of palm oil at the cost of N116.3 billion, which he said was “worrisome because this is a country that once controlled about 60% of global palm oil output”.
He said Nigeria’s annual palm oil demand currently stands at about 2.5 million metric tonnes, whereas local production level is only about 1.25 million tonnes per annum, leaving a supply gap of 1.25 mtpa, which is made up by importation.
He said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is making available N30 billion to palm oil stakeholders, in a bid to expand palm oil cultivation in the country, thereby increase output level.
Awolowo said, apart from the present high and growing demand, palm oil produce is highly priced globally, especially in non-producer countries.
Emmanuel Etim, the trade promotions advisor NEPC Calabar office, said Cross River significantly has huge palm oil potentials across its 18 local government areas; stressing that palm oil is a category A strategic export product in the priority sectors in the zero-oil plan.
He said the capacity building workshop on the theme: “Sensitising the Cross River State Oil Palm Value Chain for Export,” is directed towards achieving greater output for export.
Owali Ilem, the chairman of Oil Palm Growers Association in the state, said the decline of oil palm production since the end of the Nigerian Civil War in 1970, has been astronomic.
He said: “We are now depending on imports to satisfy our domestic needs. In 2015, Nigeria spent about N59.1 billion a year in importing palm oil produce. Since last year till date, we are importing palm oil to the tune of $500 million annually.”
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