Solidaridad harps on yield intensification technology to boost palm oil production
• Nigeria Has Potential To Be Net Exporter
• Needs 1.2m ha To Meet Local Demand
Against the backdrop of the fluctuating price of crude palm oil, there is urgent need to adopt Best Management Practice (BMP) at farm level to increase production yield and reduce prices.
This is the position of Solidaridad West Africa, which suggests that for the country to meet the current demand for palm oil of 1.57million mt, as against the domestic production of 970,000mt the Federal Government needs to urgently adopt yield intensification technology in its effort to boost production of the commodity.
The organisation’s Country Representative to Nigeria, Stephen Babajide stated this during a workshop organised for stakeholders in the oil palm sector, in Abuja, with the theme: “Harnessing The Potential Of Nigeria’s Oil Palm Sector: Benefiting From The Results And Lessons Of Sustainable West Africa Oil Palm Programme (SWAPP)”. He explained that through its SWAPP initiative, in partnership with independent smallholder farmers in Cross River and Akwa Ibom States, the yield intensification technology has helped improve yields from 2.7tons per hectare per year to 18 tones per hectare.
He explained that the BMP approach to oil palm cultivation involve creating field access, pruning, ground cover management, fertiliser application and regular harvesting, adding that the approach has worked in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
The Regional Director of the organisation, Isaac Gyamfi pointed out that Nigeria has the potential to be a net exporter of oil palm products instead of its current state, where it currently imports 552,000mt of palm oil to augument the 970mt being produced.
He maintained that the country’s oil palm industry is often cited as one of the most untapped economic opportunities in Africa, lamenting that the boom of black gold (crude oil) in the mid-1970s spelled a downturn for palm oil business, as many operators neglected the industry to feed fat on crude oil revenues.
“But now that the global price of crude oil is volatile, the role that the oil palm industry can play in diversifying the economy cannot be over-emphasised,” he stated.
Gyamfi explained that with the current average national yield of about three tons per hectare per year, additional 1.2m hectares are required to meet local palm oil demand on the assumption that all the fruits would be processed at 18 per cent oil extraction rate.
“However, if productivity is increased (through yield intensification) to at least 18 tons of fruits per hectare per year, and processed at 18 per cent oil extraction rate, Nigeria would need only 485,000 hectares to meet its domestic demand and free about 115,000 hectares of land for other crops.
“Alternatively, if all the current 600,000 hectares under cultivation could yield 18 tons per hectare per year and processed at 18 per cent oil extraction rate, Nigeria would move from being importer of palm oil to exporter of palm oil,” he stated.
The regional director emphasised that since 89 per cent of the palm oil production is from smallholder farmers, efforts must be made to increase the productivity of the farmers as a way of moving from being a net importer of palm oil to an exporter of palm oil. Indicating, promising that Solidaridad is ever ready to support such a good cause.
Solidaridad is an International civil society development organisation with operations in 52 countries on five continents. In West Africa, Solidaridad has operational programmes in Ghana, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Cameroon and Liberia.