Solidaridad, an International Non-Governmental Organisatin (INGO), has declared that it will assist Nigeria to recover lost grounds in palm oil production by repositioning the country to become a major player in the global oil palm market.
According to the Solidaridad’s Programme Manager for Oil Palm in Nigeria, Kenechukwu Onukwube, the importance of improved palm oil production in Nigeria was underscored by the global market size of the commodity, which is estimated at $62 billion.
He noted that palm oil production has the capacity to lift millions of rural poor out of poverty and contribute to attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Onukwube said: “Nigeria is currently the biggest loser in palm oil business. The country is unable to provide adequate quantity required domestically. It also loses foreign exchange as a result of importation of oil as well as potential revenue loss that would have been earned if vast area of land will be utilised in sustainable ways.’’
He made these remarks recently during a two-day national stakeholders’ forum in Abuja, that brought together participants from the Federal Ministries of Agriculture, Environment, Commerce and Industry, as well as Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) from the four states of Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Enugu, and Akwa-Ibom, where National Initiatives for Sustainable and Climate Smart Oil Palm Smallholders (NISCOPS) is being implemented. Also present were: CSOs, research institutes, and investors in the oil palm sector. The stakeholders developed the work plan indicators for implementation of NISCOPS.
He, however, emphasised the need to empower smallholder farmers, saying that they remained key players in the oil palm sector.
“Empowering smallholder farmers would translate to pro-poor strategy that would lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty in line with Federal Government’s plan to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty,” he said.
“Solidaridad, in furtherance of the aim to enhance palm oil output in the country, is set to commence full implementation of the Government of Netherlands funded programme that would build capacity of farmers to implement best management practices in palm oil production.
“The programme would also intensify efforts meant to ensure sustainable climate-smart practices for increased productivity of palm oil by introducing innovation that would improve downstream processing to increase palm oil extraction rate and quality, create competitive oil palm sector through policy and institutional dialogue and influencing, improve access to finance, inputs and market for oil palm smallholder farmers and SMEs,” he added.