The Oil Palm Growers Association of Nigeria (OPGAN) has commended President Muhammadu Buhari and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for empowering smallholder farmers under the Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP).
The newly-elected President of the association, Mr Joe Onyiuke made the commendation during a stakeholders’ forum on investment and funding opportunities in the oil palm value chain for oil palm growers in Abuja.
Onyiuke explained that the current administration had so far demonstrated strong zeal and commitment as well as readiness to elevate agriculture to boost the economy.
He said various associations in the agricultural value chains had been accessing CBN interventions and hence had taken the sector to certain level.
He gave instances in the effort made by the Buhari-led administration to revive Cotton Textiles and Garments sub sector where some textile industries were now sourcing their cottons locally for production.
Onyiuke lamented the inability of the previous leadership to create solid structure and properly organise the association adding that such had limited members from accessing the oil palm development funds recently unveiled by CBN.
He said nonetheless the CBN governor held meetings with oil palm stakeholders recently but regrettably OPGAN could not organise itself as an association to access the funds.
According to him, the oil palm value chain has enormous potentials to bring Nigeria back to where it should be in the world of palm oil market.
He emphasised the need for the members of the association to come together and organise themselves.
Onyiuke thanked the board of trustees which had taken it upon themselves to reposition the association, expressed gratitude to the association for the trust reposed in the new leadership and promise not to disappoint the association.
The new president pledged to run a transparency and accountable association where financial transactions would be done in the best practices.
“We need to bring oil palm back to the original status as it used to be a major foreign exchange earner for this country.
“Imagine, other countries that came here to take our seeds today are doing much better than us and are even earning much more than we earn from crude oil.
“So it is my desire to organise every smallholder farmer in Nigeria together and begin to do proper training and education” he added.
He however called on the Federal Government to provide adequate funding for the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) adding that it was the bedrock for repositioning the sector for greater output. (NAN)