Solidaridad, a solution-oriented civil society organisation, has called on the Kogi State Government to promote massive palm oil production to curb poverty and land degradation in the state.
Mr James Odiba, the state Solidaridad Project Coordinator, made the call during a one-day briefing/meeting in Lokoja, the state capital, on Tuesday, May 30, 2023.
Odiba said that palm oil today is the most revenue generating commodity than petroleum and could turn around the fortune of a nation.
“Solidaridad is deliberately in Kogi to see how it could help small holder farmers improve their standard of living through massive production of palm oil.
“We are today in three Local Government Areas of Kogi: Dekina, Ofu and Olamaboro working with over 30,000 small holder farmers in the production of palm oil, who will today give us feedback on their activities.
“With palm oil selling at about $3,546 per ton in the international market, Solidaridad as an experienced regional-based, solution-oriented organisation, promotes inclusive sustainable markets and development that work for the poor, to eradicate poverty,” he said.
He noted that, in West Africa, millions of smallholder farmers and workers earn their livelihoods in the oil palm sector, which in turn was an important contribution to the countries’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
According to him, in spite of an increasing demand for oil palm globally, the production has not resulted in beneficial returns to the small-holders in Kogi, Nigeria and West Africa as a whole.
“There is also the concern that despite international and domestic initiatives and standards, the expansion of oil palm sector comes with significant climate and sustainability challenges including peat, forest ecosystems, emissions from inputs and effluents that demand government’s intervention and collaboration.
“This is why the National Initiative for Sustainable Climate Smart Oil Palm for Small Holders (NISCOPS) Project in Kogi was implemented in three local governments in Kogi in 2020; namely Ofu, Dekina and Olamaboro to help matters,” he said.
Mrs Egong, an economist and resource person at the meeting, emphasised the importance of palm trees to the ecosystem and the need for farmers and Kogi government to join hands with Solidaridad
She said: “Forests are the ‘lungs’ of the earth because they supply oxygen to the atmosphere and protect the land from erosion, protect homes, farms and coastlines from strong winds and waves as well as give economic benefits, therefore must be conserved.”
Also speaking, Messer Amos Echu (Ofu), Ibrahim Musa (Dekina) and Mohammed Sani (Alamoboro) gave vivid accounts of activities of their small holders farmers in their respective LGAs and their appreciation of what Solidaridad was doing for them to improve and expand.
Mr Akin Jimoh, the Director of Agriculture, state Ministry of Agriculture, said the government had put down a blue print through which it could boost oil palm production in the state.
Jimoh commended Solidaridad for its intervention programme toward boosting oil palm production in Kogi for over three years now.
“I want to assure you that Kogi government will give you all the necessary support and cooperation toward this project which is aimed at bettering the lives of our citizens, especially the farmers, and our economy for growth and development,” he said.
By Thompson Yamput