$500M Worth Of Palm Oil Can Meet Local Demand In Nigeria – OPGAN President

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Nigeria

By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo

National President of Oil Palm Growers Association of Nigeria (OPGAN), Chief Joe Onyiuke has said that about $500 million worth of palm oil is needed to meet local demand of the commodity in Nigeria annually.
He has also said that for the gap to be bridged, local palm oil producers would need to strategize their efforts at both production and organisation to be able to attract the necessary funding needed for improved and increased production.
Onyiuke who was speaking at a town hall meeting with Akwa Ibom State chapter of OPGAN in Uyo yesterday expressed regret that palm oil which remain a major component for the production of more than 40 items excluding cooking have been left in the hands of the elderly leading to big production and supply gaps even as outdated processing methods are most times deployed in the country.
The President said the war in Europe has also constrained major palm oil producing countries of Malaysia and Indonesia to limit their export capacities with Nigeria unable to attend to increasing export requests since production levels have stagnated overtime.
“It is so bad that Nigeria do not even have any capacity to export palm oil again and the local demand gap is about $500 million and that is why OPGAN has taken it upon themselves to organise members properly and so if we are able to galvanize our strength I am very sure we can meet the gap and surpass it.
“Oil Palm affect our lives everywhere especially in the food industry. Without palm oil you can’t have your Noddles, pasta, soap,magarine, mayonnaise, chocolate, tooth paste and so on in the food industry oil palm is the key because more than 40 items are produced from it and so when you talk about food security in the world oil palm remain key.
“Crude oil have failed Nigeria. Oil palm will return Nigeria to the prosperity of the past. We are lucky to have the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research, NIFOR, and they are there to help us. So we need to go back to the drawing board.” He explained.
He tasked members of the association on the need for Cooperatives and Clusters for easy access to loans and assured that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, loan facility for members would be ready in three months for those able to meet the requirements and conditions stipulated by the Apex bank.
Poor funding and proliferation of unorganised small holder farms and low participation of youths according to Onyiuke remained a major constraint to increasing production levels but assured members of ready and willing market for their produce and a surge in price of the commodity as enough incentive for them to increase efforts.
Onyiuke tasked local government coordinators on the need for increased mobilization for new members and told the meeting that the association has initiated moves to float a micro finance bank and institute a health insurance policy for them while arrangements have been concluded for special loans for women and youth farmers in the association.
He pointed out that the over 200,000 member association have been invigorated for improved business processes while efforts are being made to add more to the 250,000 hectares of plantation land owned by OPGAN members nationwide.
While charging members to increase their collaboration with NIFOR, a senior official of the institute Dr Solomon warned of the prevalence of saboteurs who deceive farmers with fake NIFOR seedlings and fruits.
Solomon regretted that most plantations in the country have become very outdated and old and would need systematic replanting while processing need to be updated and mordernised for optimum result and and increased profitability.
State chairman of OPGAN, Bishop Onukak Afahaene who urged members to key into the vision of the Onyiuke led OPGAN expressed joy that the Federal Government has realised the need for increased oil palm production and have renewed interest in increasing the capacities of oil palm growers in the country. 

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