From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin

The Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) in collaboration with IDH Foundation yesterday, trained about 30 Extension agents from Edo and Ondo states on climate-smart oil Palm production guide.

Declaring the training opened, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, said the training was part of efforts by the federal government to return Nigeria to its rightful place as the hub of oil Palm production in Africa.

Abubakar, represented by a Director in the ministry, Chukwuemeka Ukattah, said the training on climate-smart guide would help farmers to improve their yield in a sustainable and inclusive manner.

” The essence of the training is to take the climate-smart agricultural practices to the farmers and NIFOR has worked so hard to come up with climate-smart manual.

” Climate is changing and so we need to move away from our conventional way of production to climate-smart Oil Palm production.

“”This training is to help the farmers adopt these best practices to increase productivity and limit the emissions of green house gases when producing oil Palm.

According to him, the federal government is supporting NIFOR in this regard because they complement the efforts of the federal government.

Abubakar, however, commended the effort of IDH Foundation and other developmental partners for developing the climate-smart manual to grow the oil Palm industry.

In his welcome address, the Executive Director of the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR), Dr Celestine Ikuenobe, welcome participants to NIFOR.

Ikuenobe said a training manual has been developed by NIFOR in collaboration with IDH Foundation and would be distributed to the extension agents who would train farmers in Edo and Ondo states.

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He noted that the training guide was designed to provide technical information on improved environmentally friendly production practice in the oil Palm industry.

“The training guide is a resource materials for trainers and extension agents working directly with farmers.

” Often times, we wonder why Indonesians and the Malaysians have overtaken us in oil Palm production. It is because we sometimes don’t adopt best practices.

” So understanding this and many other challenges, we decided to harmonize different ideas using scientist to come up with this climate- smart manual for all extension agents,” he said.

According to him, the first oil Palm production technology is the quality of seeds. We have had these seeds here in NIFOR for many years but farmers still decide to patronize those by the roadside.

Also speaking, Dr Chris Okafor, the team lead, IDH Oil Palm Development Programme, said the production of the manual took a lot of efforts and time of different scientist in the oil Palm value chain.

Okafor said” when we came into the oil Palm sector, we discovered that there was no training guide.

“So we supported NIFOR financially with other partners to develop a climate smart Oil Palm production guide for farmers,” he said.

The Director of Extension Services, NIFOR, Mr Segun Solomon urged the extension agents to take advantage of the training to enhance their technical skills.

“What we are going to be doing in the next five days, is to train these extension agents from Edo and Ondo in this pilot phase on how to use the guide itself properly,” he said.

According to him, the objective of the guide may not be achieved if the extension agents were not properly trained.

Caption: Some trainees in group photograph after the training in Benin City yesterday