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Oil palm processing: PIND/NIFOR partnership raises hope of revival

BY SIMON EBEGBULEM, BENIN CITY

HISTORY was made last Friday at the National Institute for Oil Palm Research, NIFOR, in Edo State when five persons who were sponsored to be trained on how to build modern oil processing machines at the institute by the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta, PIND, graduated.

The trainees who commenced the training on June 26, 2013, after an MOU was signed between the PIND officials and the management of the institute led by its Executive Director, Dr Omarefe Asemota, were trained on how to fabricate the NIFOR small and medium scale processing equipment.

Dr Asemota who described the colourful event as very remarkable for the institute, said the training had afforded the institute the opportunity to export its expertise directly into the economy of the people of the Niger Delta and Nigerians at large, adding that jobs would be created and the youths from the region will generate income amongst themselves.

The newly trained fabricators listen attentively to a speech on the occasion of their passing out
The newly trained fabricators listen attentively to a speech on the occasion of their passing out

According to him: “When this opportunity came up we saw it as a very welcome development, to train people who therefore can become extensions from the arms of NIFOR, who will become hopefully worthy ambassadors of this institute without necessarily becoming members of staff. I congratulate our trainees.

There is a reason the institute began to develop the machines you came to learn, which we call the small scale processing equipment. It is targeted at small holders who are not resource-rich people. But it is also because it is important to us and to the industry that standard be adhered to and in this particular case I am talking about standard in quality.

That is why we needed processing machines that made it possible for us to process quickly but correctly so that the oil that our people consume will be of good quality. It is important to process well and do it correctly so that we can get the proper standards. And in that process the institute has three versions: there is a standard, there is a medium there is a mini”.

While urging the trainees to adhere strictly on quality products, the NIFOR boss asserted that “the machine you have come to study have promoted this institute on the international scale. We do not encourage people who cut corners, we do not encourage people who would want to lower standards. You have come for a training programme, please be kind enough to adhere to the standard that you have met, that you have been taught. Of course we have discussed with PIND on how to monitor you.

There must be transparency, there should be nothing to hide because we are partners. But I also want to say to you that whatever you might need in future like innovations that might come up, be free to make your request, be free to contact us”.

In his remarks, the representative of PIND, Mr Sylvester Okoh, who expressed gratitude to the management of NIFOR for making the training a reality,   explained that PIND “ is an organisation that was set up by Chevron oil company in the US and the purpose of the organisation is to help people in the Niger Delta to support them to do what they know how to do better so that they will make more money and many more people will have jobs to do.

We appreciate the Executive Director for accepting to partner with FIND. Even when we started this initiative we were skeptical, but from the beginning to the end when we signed the MOU was less than seven weeks which even in the private sector is a record time.

Then the training itself was 20 days, all those equipment manufactured from the raw materials. We are working in the nine Niger Delta states; this is just the beginning of the partnership”. He further pointed out to the trainees that “one thing that is very very important in food processing is quality. If you give people food that is not good they will be sick. NIFOR has staked its name, so try and represent them well so that PIND will be happy. We are going to keep an eye on you. So be very good ambassadors of both PIND and NIFOR”. Charles Elechi, an engineer and staff of NIFOR who trained the beneficiaries, expressed optimism that the trainees would be able to use their skills for the betterment of their respective communities.

He charged the trainees to cooperate in terms of exchange of ideas “because you cannot know it all. You must be told that when you install any equipment, we will like to follow up to know how many of these equipment you have successfully introduced into the market”.

Speaking also, the Manager, Market Development Projects of PIND, Mr James Elekwachi, explained thus: “After this, the next is the installation of the equipment and that will involve moving this equipment to Ugwuta in Imo State where we will install it for demonstration purposes. Most of these fabricators live around that cluster and that was one of the criteria for selecting them. The primary objective of PIND is increasing employment and income of the people of the Niger Delta.


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