The leadership and membership of the National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN) has emphasised the need for the National Assembly to pass a Bill for the establishment of National Oil Palm Development Council in the country.
National president of NPPAN, Mr. Alphonsus Inyang, who made known NPPAN members’ position on the issue at Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area, during the formal flag-off of the 2022 oil palm planting season and distribution of seedlings to farmers in collaboration with the Akwa Ibom government, noted that the Bill when passed into law shall be responsible for the regulation, incentivisation, promotion and driving of investments in the oil palm sector across the country.
Inyang, represented by the national public relations officer, Mrs Benedett Ekanem, also called on all local government areas in the 24 oil palm producing states to close ranks with NPPAN for the development of a minimum of 20,000 hybrid seedlings for onward distribution to smallholder farmers in their council areas.
NPPAN president advised the Federal Ministry of Finance to release at least 25 percent of all duty charge on imported palm oil products to the Association for backward integration, advising that the Ministry should discontinue the granting of waivers for the importation of palm oil into the country.
The state governments, he said, should cooperate with the association to set up oil palm markets and depots as well as grading centres in the various sections of the state to encourage quality assurance control, products development, domestication of statistics and revenue generation.
The association advised the state governments to allocate atleast 50,0000 acres of arable land to it for the development of oil palm clusters where ground rents shall be paid on yearly basis.
In addition, it advised the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) to fund the production and distribution of at least 10 million sprouted oil palm seedlings annually for onward distribution to smallholder farmers in the country.
The organisation also emphasised the need for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to direct the Bankers Committee to accept oil palm plantation as collateral for loans to enable farmers expand their plantations for the purpose of revitalising the nation’s economy.
He called on the Federal Ministry of Environment to replace ornamental and non-economic trees with oil palm trees during the yearly commemoration of World Tree Planting Day in the country.
Inyang declared the readiness of the association to partner the Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, state governments and other development partners, and critical stakeholders to rescue Nigeria’s economy from over reliance on importation of palm oil and its derivatives into the country.
He declared the determination of the association, under his leadership, to work with the federal, state and local governments, their agencies and private sector to develop atleast 500,000 acres of oil palm seedlings annually that would translate into the creation of two million direct and indirect jobs annually.
The commissioner for agriculture, Dr Offiong Offor, while performing the flag off ceremony, said there was no way Akwa Ibom, being a major oil palm producer among the 18 traditional producing states in Nigeria with virtually all local government areas involved in the production, would not play prominent role in the advancement of the sector.
Offor remarked that it was in demonstration of government’s commitment to food sufficiency that her Ministry decided to upscale the production of the commodity as evidenced in the distribution of improved oil palm seedlings to farmers and flag-off of the year 2022 planting season campaign as an encouragement to farmers in the state.
The commissioner recalled with delight that the free distribution of more than 100,000 oil palm seedlings to farmers by her Ministry last year were aimed at improving production in the state.