By Festus Ahon, Asaba
National President, National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria, NPPAN, Mr. Alphonsus Inyang has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria to set aside a special fund of at least N200 billion for the development of the oil palm sector in Nigeria.
Inyang who made the call in Asaba while flagging off the 2021 planting season and distribution of seedlings across the country, said such funds were necessary under the existing oil Palm Development Initiative domiciled in its Development Finance Department.
He said: “The federal ministry of Agriculture should fund the production and distribution of at least 10 million sprouted nuts annually for distribution to smallholder farmers across the country. The CBN should modify the anchor borrower’s Programme guidelines to accommodate perennial crops like oil palm”.
Inyang who was represented by Stephen Eghen said: “As an association, we have concrete plans to lead all families on an ambitious drive to plant 20 palm trees from 2022-2026. As a precursor, we are starting with the development of 10 million seedlings in 2022 for distribution to families.
“We have with the help of God pursued a programme of getting every family in the 24 states that have comparative advantage in growing oil palm to plant at least 20 oil palm trees.
“What we are doing here today is significant in the sense that not only does it lay credence to our programme of every family planting at least 20 oil palm trees.
“It sends a strong signal to our members in particular and Nigerians in general that our association is ever ready and willing with the right support of all to restore Nigeria’s name on the global map of oil producing nations.
“Nigeria which used to be a net exporter of palm oil, today, is in the business of importing the product to the tune of $550 million annually”.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mr. Ben Agamah, who also spoke at the ceremony, said; “in the agric and farming business, Delta State since the inception of this administration, has been able to cultivate 2,700 hectares of oil palm.
“The state raised about 1, 500,000 seedlings and distributed to about 1,440 smallholder farmers. Oil Palm is a game-changer. As of 15th of May this year the international price for a metric ton of oil palm is sold at $1070 and our crude oil sells at $70 per barrel”.
On his part, the State Chairman, NPPAN, Dickson Okpor, said: “It is my vision and dream that Delta will be the best in the Oil Palm Business. I encourage those of us that are here to take advantage of what we have seen here today. I sincerely appeal to you to take the message home.
“We have not explored enough the potential of oil palm in Delta State and Nigeria, as we go from here, please let us do that”.
Also, the representative of CBN, Elias Nworie, Head Development Finance, said oil palm was receiving the attention of the apex bank, adding that; “in Delta alone, we have organized a life scale Oil producers with a view to assisting them access funding from the Central Bank of Nigeria”.