Agriculture Rural Development Minister Mohammad Abubakar has tasked stakeholders on the need to reposition Nigeria to its rightful position as top exporter of palm oil.
The minister made the call when he received a delegation of stakeholders of the proposed conference on Nigeria oil palm led by its convener, Mr Fatai Afolabi in Abuja.
Abubakar said that in the early 60s Nigeria’s agriculture sector was the major source of revenue, but is currently struggling to be a big agricultural nation.
” In the early 60s, Nigeria’s agriculture sector was the major source of revenue, but today, the country is struggling to be a big agricultural nation, It is not too late for Nigeria to reposition itself,” he said.
He recalled that Malaysia came to Nigeria some years back, got oil palm seedlings and became number 1 producers of oil palm in the world and today Nigeria is ranked the 5th position, which makes it worrisome, the Minister emphasised.
“Rice, Cassava and Yam are top priorities in the agricultural sector, I urged the stakeholders to use the summit to think, plan ahead and develop a policy that would put Nigeria back on track,” he said.
The minister cautioned that it was not just proposing to have a summit but a lot of thinking and planning must be carried out to avoid past mistakes.
He pledged to work with any organisation to achieve the economic diversification policy of the Present Administration.
Abubakar commended the stakeholders for their efforts towards repositioning Nigeria oil palm, assuring that the ministry would collaborate and give necessary assistance to ensure oil palm sub sector strives.
In his remarks, Afolabi, the convener of the proposed Oil Palm Summit, said that oil palm was one of the most important tree crops in the country, adding that that the importance of oil palm in Nigeria could not be over emphasised.
Afolabi said that oil palm was a means of livelihood, fuel and raw materials for industries.
He said that the Summit would be a forum for stakeholders and relevant organisations both Government and non-Governmental organisations to deliberate, synergize and come up with measures that would move the Oil Palm industry to its peak.
He said that the proposed oil palm would also enable stakeholders to identify business models as well as opportunities for International partners.
In a related development, the Minister received the delegation of Friesland Campina Wamco led by the Executive Director, Corporate Affairs, Mrs Ore Famurewa.
Famurewa said that the company would continue to partner with the Ministry to improve quality of locally produced milk, capacity training for smallholder dairy farmers in the modern technologies on how to boost production and increase their earnings.
She, therefore, solicited the Minister’s assistance towards securing about 200 to 300 hectares of land in Abuja for the organisation future projects.