THE Federal government has launched a Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) project in order to improve the income generating potential of oil palm in West and Central Africa. The CFC is an inter-governmental financial institution established within the framework of the United Nations with the aim of supporting commodity dependent developing and least developed nations.
Launching the project in Abuja on Wednesday, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, Permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry, said the initiative was developed by UNIDO following the request of the Nigerian and Cameroonian governments. Abubakar said the project was aimed at promoting the development as well as sustainable production and utilisation of oil palm in West and Central Africa.
He said the project would encourage sectoral linkage to improve and ensure variety and technology transfer for effective production and processing of oil palm. Abubakar also said the project would attract support from institutions to improve research and development of oil palm in both sub-regions.
â€œTo achieve this laudable objective, three pilot commercial demonstration processing units will be established as basis for technology transfer and technical skills upgrading in Akwa Ibom, Ondo and Imo states. For the project to achieve the desired results in each of the three pilot centres, stakeholders will benefit from training, exchange of experience and technology transfer from Malaysia and Indonesia,â€™â€™ he said.
Abubakar noted that funding for the project was shared among Nigeria, Cameroun, UNIDO and the private sector. According to him, Nigeria is to provide $500,000 ; Cameroon $800,000; UNIDO $300,000 while the private sector is to raise $140,000.
Chief Michael Oruh, the leader of the Cameroonian delegation, said the implementation of the project would go a long way in alleviating poverty . He also said that the project would promote the industrialisation of palm oil sub-sector in the region, adding that his country was ready to continue cooperation with the Nigerian government.
Speaking on behalf of the private sector, Mr Charles Ugwu, former Minister of Commerce and Industry, stressed the need for all stakeholders to embrace improved palm seedlings for maximum yields.Ugwu urged government to work out modalities to compensate communities eager to replace old palm trees with improved varieties. He noted that it was only in Nigeria that palm trees of more than 60 years were still in existence.