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How Nigeria can generate $45bn from palm produce

Palm produce, especially oil and kernel, used to contribute highly to the Gross Domestic Product (GPD) alongside cocoa and generated foreign exchange in Nigeria. 

In the current economic situation in the country, if government at all levels can develop and focus on palm production, Nigeria can, in the first three to five years, generate between $30 to $45 billion and create hundreds of thousands of employment in the sector.

Daily Sun learnt that the produce used to be one of the mainstay of the nation’s economy but with a well-developed palm oil industry, Nigeria can export to the product and earn foreign exchange, which will be a boost its economy diversification policy. 

In Nigeria, palm plantation is expected to increase annually in the next five – seven years to achieve the over 3,000,000 hectares of land experts say would lead to its self-sufficiency in oil palm and allied products production to meet demands.   

In order to achieve this, BKG Exhibitions Limited, one of the foremost fairs and exhibitions organising company in Nigeria has entered into partnership with WorldEx Trade Media Group, a Malaysian company, to hold a world Palm Produce and Technology Expo and Conference (PALMTECH) in Enugu State between July 12 and 14, 2017, to sensitise the government on the need to create enabling environment for the development of the sector, among other core objectives. 

Addressing newsmen in Lagos, the Managing Director of BKG Exhibitions Limited, W. Ifeanyichukwu Agwu, said there is no reason Nigeria should have huge unemployment figure when employment can be generated through palm oil plantation and other agricultural produce like cocoa, he said the country should be hiring labour instead of the unemployment syndrome bedeviling the country.

He stated that, “today, palm oil is even more expensive than crude oil that everybody is struggling to put their head into and it is safer because there is no oil well to allocate in palm oil business. High technology that is required in oil exploration and drilling is not required in palm. The locals can work there and get it done with or without education. The most amazing in this is that it yields equal money or more than crude oil.”

He said a lot of young men roaming the streets across the country, taking househelp jobs with menial salary of N20,000 per month while some are hawking groundnut, biros, among others, with all the dangers inherent in the business, when development of the palm produce sector could get them meaningfully employed. 

He therefore called on the Federal Government to help the young people before they die by investing in palm oil plantations in the country, saying there would be tremendous requirements of labour to man the plantations.

According to him, the production of palm oil does not cost anything because it is not like crude that is taken away to be refined. He said the production starts and ends here in Nigeria.

He added: “It is clear that nobody will ever come to develop our cocoa and palm if we don’t do it ourselves. Malaysia would have come here knowing that we have fertile and conducive land; they would never come to develop it for us because they know it’s not theirs. Nobody will grow our country if we don’t do it. Any investor coming here will take back his money. We Nigerians need to develop our country and make it comfortable for us.

“That is why we are organising this PALMTECH conference. We are bringing in the best of technology from Malaysia, the people who came to Nigeria in the 60s to take away palm seedlings and are now the biggest palm producers in the world and God blessed us immensely with palm trees. The palm is growing everywhere and then imagine when it is well managed. You can see what we can achieve with it.”

He therefore called on all the governors that can produce palm in their states to ensure they participate in the event, saying it is the only way they can empower their people, urging them to desist from buying Okada and tricycle for their citizens as an empowerment because they are improvising and killing them.

Said he: “For example, look at some states that bought taxis for their people and they bought those taxis for about N2 to N3 million depending on the vehicle they use while some states bought 200 to 300 taxis. Go back to some of those states after rwo years, you hardly see any of the taxis. 70 per cent of them did not pay back. This is not investment but if you set up a palm plantation, it will be there for generations to come. The ones Emmayo Opkara planted in the 60s are still there.” 

He also advised businessmen who have access to financing to look into palm plantation as well because it is a low maintenance investment that outlives the person, noting that no matter the amount they invest, they start making money shortly after the palms start growing. 

He said, “it is better to invest in palm than building houses that nobody lives there such as Ikoyi, Lekki. 60 per cent of the buildings there are empty because nobody can afford them and after 20 years, they will put 20 per cent to maintain the buildings. Some are there for close to 10 years without tenants but in this sector, palm lasts nearly a century and it keeps producing for like 100 years. To invest in palm won’t take any investor 30 per cent of what you invest in a building.” 

He disclosed that there are some palm trees that give 15 bunch heads evey year and after three years or two and half years, the investor starts reaping quickly.

Saying that is the way it is now because it is no longer that tall one that people climb to harvest. 

He said government must looking into palm oil production seriously. He said some state governments are doing well in palm production such as Abia, Delta, Imo, Cross River and Akwa Ibom and it is only for them to manage properly.

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