The Oil Palm Growers Association of Nigeria (OPGAN) has called for pragmatic steps by relevant government agencies to tackle the dwindling fortunes of the nation’s oil palm sector.
The group made the call at a town hall meeting organised to garner support from the Federal Government to revive the sector.
It specifically urged the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) to proffer solutions to the challenges bedevilling the sector in the country.
In a speech, the National President of OPGAN, Mr Joe Onyiuke, said the meeting was to explore the way forward on the ANCHOR Borrower’s Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Onyiuke described the inauguration of OPGAN’s new liaison office in NIFOR as “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.
“You can see that we have representatives of the CBN, commercial banks and insurance companies here.
“They are to discuss the terms and conditions that are required to make us eligible to participate in the ANCHOR Borrower’s programme,” Onyiuke said.
Also, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emiefele, represented by his Special Adviser on Development Finance, Mr Anthony Ufechukwu, said CBN was committed to reviving the oil palm sector to stop importation.
Emiefele said: “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 to ensure that they plant and assist small scale farmers but we are not getting the results.
“So, we are going 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 consists of persons who provide more than 90 per cent of oil palm consumed in households in Nigeria.”
He said that getting the farmers under proper organisation would encourage CBN to fund them.
Emiefele said that part of the package for the association was that the farmers would be insured.
“We expect that in 10 years from now, OPGAN will be self-sustaining,” he said
Earlier, the Executive Director of NIFOR, Celestine Ikuenobe, said the core mandate of the institute is to transfer knowledge to farmers and create national wealth.
According to him, the value chain in oil palm is enormous but farmers have in the past failed to take advantage of its improved seedlings in NIFOR.
By Nefishetu Yakubu