By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
Following the change in leadership in the agricultural sector, oil palm farms under the auspices of the National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria, NPPAN, Wednesday, tasked the new Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, on focusing and developing cash crops along various value chains.
This was contained in a statement with subject, ‘Agenda for the new Agriculture Minister’ and signed by the National President, NPPAN, Amb. Alphonsus Enang, where the farmers called for new direction by the Abubakar-led agricultural sector to ensure cash crops including oil palm, cocoa, cashew nuts, rubber, coconut, tea and coffee are given the desired attention to really diversify the economy and generate huge foreign exchange for the country based on the viability, capability and profitability of these commodities.
The statement reads in part, “The Honorable Minister should focus his energy in the development of a more sustainable sector of the agriculture industry through well articulated policies and massive development of tree crop commodities such as Oil Palm, cocoa, cashew nuts, rubber, coconut, tea and coffee to recover the lost glory of the country in the production, processing and exports of these commodities.
“These commodities should be regarded as mandate commodities and huge budgets should be made for them in the 2022 fiscal year.
“Each of these commodities can generate at least 5 million new jobs as each plantation will produce for up to 50 years.”
The farmers also urged the new Minister to key into its oil palm initiative, “As National President of Nigeria’s premier and umbrella association for all small holder farmers in the oil Palm value chain, we urge the Honorable Minister to partner with the National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN) in its Programme ‘One Household, 20 Palm Trees’ to populate our rural communities with oil Palm trees thereby generating over 5 million jobs by the end of 2023.
It also assured the Minister of support for programmes that would move the sector to another height.
“The association is open to work with the Minister in the replacement of none economic trees on our landscape with Palm trees across the country”, it added.