…as apex bank plans 1.2m ha by 2023
Some 28 communities in Delta State have donated 33,000 hectares of their land to welcome a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Oil Palm Development Initiative (CBN-OPDI).
The CBN-OPDI aims at establishing 1.2 million hectares of oil palm plantations between 2019 and 2023, so as move the country from its current 5th production position to 3rd in the world of oil palm producers within a short term.
Nigeria is currently farming some 400,000 hectares of land, mainly through smallholder schemes. The National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN) says Nigeria needs to cultivate additional 2 million hectares of oil palm, which requires N700 billion investment. With this, the country can increase its palm oil production to cover the supply gap of over 1.1 million metric tons.
Nigeria’s current domestic production of palm oil is put at 900,000 metric tons, whereas national demand is over 2 million metric tons, thereby forcing end-users of the product to spend $500 million annually to import crude palm oil (CPO) mainly from Malaysia and Indonesia which are current world major producers. Nigeria is currently the 5th producer of CPO in the world.
Last month, some oil palm stakeholders in Rivers State called on the Federal Government to ask the CBN and the Debt Management Office (DMO) to create a $1 billion 10-year bond that would provide funding to revive Nigeria’s palm oil industry valued at several billions of dollars. They also said that a government-private sector partnership was critical to drive growth in the industry.
Julius Egbedi, Delta’s commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, at a stakeholders meeting of CBN/OPDI in Asaba, explained that the state government keyed into the initiative to increase wealth and promote economic growth in the state.
He said the initiative was geared towards creating an oil palm belt in the country, and revive the dwindling fortunes of the commodity which Nigeria was largest producer in the world in the early 1960s.
Egbedi said the objective of the programme which prompted the interest of the state government was to increase domestic production of oil palm through the efforts of individuals, communities and investors. The initiative through a multiplier effect would meet local demand for palm oil, palm kernel oil, hydrogenated fat; and then stamp out the current importation of the items; thereby create employment and wealth in the state.
“The time to begin the expansion of the oil palm sector is now. The accelerated production of oil palm will reduce poverty in our communities, move the country out of overdependence on crude oil economy, and promote agriculture,” Egbedi stated.
He also revealed that farmers of oil palm would be given loans at a single digit interest rate payable over a four-year period. He urged interested farmers in the state to make good use of the opportunity provided by the initiative to invest in the oil palm business.