The Federal Government said yesterday that it was targeting
$8 billion revenue from palm oil export under the Agriculture Transformation
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi
Adesina, announced the plan in Abuja at
the signing of the agreement for Estate Participation in the Oil Palm Nursery
and Field planting activity.
The minister explained that the country would have achieved
the target if it had made use of its oil palm industry in 1961.
“Nigeria used to be the largest exporter of palm oil in the
1960s until Malaysia came here and got its improved palm nuts from Nigeria.
“Now Malaysia makes $18 billion from oil palm export. We
want to get back to when palm oil used to be the mainstay of our economy,’’
He said the situation changed following the anomaly caused
by the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantity in the 1970s.
The minister said Nigeria produced only 1.3 million tonnes
of vegetable oil and imported more than 350,000 tonnes of vegetable oil
He said the business cost the country $500 million in
foreign exchange and described the situation as unacceptable.
Adesina said that President Goodluck Jonathan under ATA had
taken advantage of the palm oil industry, which contributed 72 per cent of the
nation’s vegetable oil.
He said the ministry planned to support the production of
240,000 hectares of oil palm in the next three years through smallholder
farmers and oil palm estates.
Adesina said that the ministry had set a target of raising
nine million improved sprouted nuts into mature seedlings for the establishment
of 60,000 hectares by 2013.
The minister said that the estate activity was a
public-private partnership in which the ministry had provided free improved
nuts for the palm estates.
“The estates are required to plant and nurse the nuts for
the next 10 to 12 months and thereafter transplant to their own plantations by August
2013,’’ Adesina said.
He said that the idea to provide improved nuts for the
estates was based on its high yielding capacity estimated at over 21 tonnes per
Managing Director of Wilbali Investment Ltd, Mrs Wilma
Aguele, on behalf of the palm oil
estates, commended the ministry for its initiative.
She promised that the ministry would not regret selecting
them as pioneer pilot groups to benefit from the initiative.
In his remark, the Minister of State for Agriculture and
Rural Development, Alhaji Bukar Tijani,
stressed that Jonathan was determined to bring back the days when palm
oil was one of the main contributors to the economy.
He said the ministry would provide the necessary income for
smallholder farmers in palm oil production.
He urged the 18 palm oil estates to go beyond the targeted