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Inject N50bn into oil palm – Association tells FG

Inject N50bn into oil palm – Association tells FG The National President, Oil Palm Growers Association of Nigeria, Chief Hilary Uche, on Friday called on the Federal Government to review its policy on oil palm.

Uche said that the call became necessary in view of the economic recession in the country.

He said that such policy should include provision of strong financial support for oil palm farmers.

He suggested injection of N50bn into oil palm sub-sector by the government to reduce the negative impact of the current economic recession on oil palm farmers.

He said, “With N50bn, we will achieve a lot in oil palm growing and processing in the 24 states with the potential to grow oil palm in Nigeria.”

The financial support, he added, would enable the country to get the desired dividends from such “agricultural window”.

He said that in countries where oil palm plantation was doing well, government usually support the sector.

Uche recalled that oil palm made the feasible impact in the economy of the defunct Eastern Nigeria before the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantity in 1950s.

He said that Nigeria can repeat the feat if fund is provided to oil palm farmers.

The OPAGAN boss said that investment in oil palm required patience “in the sense that after planting, you have to wait for at least three years before harvesting.

He said, “Oil palm is unlike poultry, fishery, piggery or rice farming which you can invest in and in less than six months you start to get returns.

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“Oil palm farmers need support from the Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal and State Ministries of Agriculture for the sector to contribute meaningfully to economic growth of the country.”

Uche noted that the advantage of oil palm was that it had has long gestation period and capable of sustaining the economy and it needed government’s full support.

He said that apart from getting high yielding seedlings, there is the need for good maintenance, provision of harvesters and processing for the country to have the benefits.

Uche said if Nigerian government can support oil palm sector the way she is supporting other agricultural windows like rice, cassava, the revenue from oil palm can sustain the nation’s economy.

He said, “Oil palm has more than 360 value chains and before now it had sustained the economy of part of this country and has the potential to provide jobs to numerous unemployed youths.

“Twenty hectres of plantation of oil palm can engage more than 2,000 workers, while one automated oil processing plant can employ more than 3,000 persons.

“This is apart from numerous others that can indirectly eke a living via sales and supply of the by-products.”

He added that if six automated oil palm processing plants could be established in each of the 24 states with the potential to grow oil palm, unemployment would be greatly reduced.

Uche, who noted that Adapalm oil palm plantation and processing plant in Ohaji/Egbema area of Imo had gone comatose, said that if properly managed, Adapalm could engage more than 5,000 workers.

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