Farmers seek FG’s support on dwindling fortunes in oil palm sector

OIL Palm Growers Association of Nigeria, OPGAN, rose from a meeting at the weekend, in Benin, Edo State capital, with a call on the Federal Government to assist in reviving the  oil palm sector.

The meeting which held at the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research, NIFOR, was called to proffer solutions to the dwindling fortune of the oil palm sector in Nigeria.

The association also inaugurated its liaison office in the premises of NIFOR as part of efforts to facilitate the production of oil palm in the country.

Speaking at the town hall meeting, OPGAN, National President, Mr. Joe Onyiuke, said the meeting was to garner support  from the Federal Government to revive the oil palm sector.

“We are in NIFOR today to strategise on the way forward on the ANCHOR Borrower’s Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. More importantly to commission our new liaison office in NIFOR which is key to us as oil palm farmers. With this office our farmers will be able to get all the benefits  and training required for the cultivation of oil palm”, he noted.

Onyiuke pointed out that the presence of the representatives of the CBN, commercial banks and insurance companies, at the meeting indicated that the issues tabled for discussion were of high importance, adding that the financial experts would “discuss the terms and conditions that is required to make us eligible to participate in the ANCHOR Borrower’s programme of the CBN”.

Also speaking, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emiefele, represented by Mr. Anthony Ufechukwu, the Special Adviser on Development Finance to the Governor, said the CBN was committed to reviving the oil palm sector to stop importation.

“The CBN is very emphatic about reviving the oil palm sector.  In doing this, we started by reaching out to  large companies like Presco, Okomu and others, with a view to ensuring that they plant and assist small scale farmers”,  Emiefele said.

To get the desired results, the apex bank boss said that would “go down to the roots to interact with small scale farmers who cultivate about one to five hectares to have a strong union to promote themselves in the oil palm industry”.

“I know that OPGAN group consist of persons who provide more than 90 percent of oil palm consumed in households in Nigeria,” he added.

He emphasised that the farmers, operating under a good organisation, would make it easier for the CBN to be able to fund them, adding that part of the package would be to insure the farmers and make them self-sustaining in the next 10 years.

Also speaking, Dr Peter Osagiede, the Edo chairman of OPGAN,  urged all its members to buy improved seedlings from NIFOR to guarantee increased production.

“We are here today to open an office where we would be liaising with NIFOR for improved seedlings. From today we are going back to our farms to produce oil palm for local consumption and to also earn foreign exchange,” he said.

Earlier, the Executive Director of NIFOR, Celestine Ikuenobe welcome the farmers to the Edo and NIFOR.

Ikuenobe told the farmers that the mandate of the institute was to transfer knowledge to farmers and create national wealth.

He lamented that the value chain in oil palm was enormous, but farmers had in the past failed to take advantage of its improved seedlings in NIFOR.

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