Chief Paul Okpor, a major palm oil plantation farmer in Delta, has called on governments at all levels to support palm oil plantation farming to stimulate agricultural production in the country. Okpor made the appeal in an interview with newsmen in Asaba.
According to him, some of the challenges facing palm oil producers in Delta include land, fertilisers and finance.
â€œI acquired my land at Utagba-Uno in Ndokwa West Local Government Area of Delta in 1983, about a 100 hectares, because we had enough land. But in some areas it will be difficult to do palm oil plantation farming due to lack of land.
â€œIn some areas, you donâ€™t even have up to two acres. But those who can afford it can acquire land from those who have to sell though at very exorbitant costs.
But if the government can make financial provision and make land available for commercial farming, the rate of youthâ€™s unemployment will be addressed as many will take to palm oil farming,â€ he said.
He added: â€œIn this country, agriculture is the only project or business that anybody can go into, but we are not encouraged. This is because I had wanted to establish a mill some where in the state and I was asked to apply to NAPEP and I applied but nothing came out of it. I hear there are funds from the Federal Government but they do not have funds from the state.
If we can get loans, it will go a long way in addressing some of the problems we are facing,â€ Okpor said. Okpor said that palm plantation yielded good returns and that his farm produced about 50,000 litres of palm oil yearly.
â€œThe farm has been there since 1983. And because it is so big, I leased out some of the plantations to other people to manage and pay me some returns. I rented out the palm plantation and itâ€™s even more lucrative if you do not want the problem of management. Though, this year was bad because the farm did not do well.
â€œBut I produce over a thousand and fifty litres of palm oil from the portion of the farm and I stock them to take advantage of the prices when they go up. I donâ€™t export, I sell at the local market,â€ he said.
Okpor said that because of the various impediments in the processing of documents for exports, he preferred to sell locally. Youths in Ndokwa Area of Delta where my farm is, are already taking advantage of the gain that comes from palm plantation. They go to NIFOR to buy the seedling and today most of them are making a lot of money from the sales of both the seedling and the palm produce. â€œEach seedling sells for about N160 and 100 seedlings are enough to start the business. And you can start even if you have only one acre of land because somebody will come to hire it,â€ Okpor said.