Officials from Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, states, agencies and non-governmental organisations, yesterday, said Nigeria was spending about $500 million annually on oil palm imports.
At national workshop on oil palm, organised in Abuja, by Solidaridad, an international NGO, senior government officials and other stakeholders agreed to partner to reduce the continued import of the commodity.
Speaking on the sidelines of the workshop, Deputy Director of Federal Department of Agriculture (FMARD), Bernard Okata said the partnership was to move the oil palm sector forward.
According to Okata, the volume of oil and fat that Nigeria requires was about three million metric tonnes but it had been difficult to meet this demand.
“Our current local requirement for oil generally is about three million metric tonnes but we are producing about 1.02 metric tonnes of oil palm. So there is a gap. We import to make up for this gap and Nigeria is spending about $500 million annually for this importation up till now. We have oils from groundnut, soybean and all that.
But from oil palm alone, we are producing 1.02 million MT, while from other oils we produce 1.7 million MT and so the shortfall is about 350,000MT. So the significance of this partnership is to ensure that the foreign exchange is channeled to the development of other activities if we can expand our oil palm production to satisfy our local industries,” he said.
On his part, Senior Climate Specialist for Africa at Solidaridad, Sam Ogala, stated that Nigeria was not meeting its domestic demand for oil palm.
“This country is spending around $500 million annually to import oil palm. That shows you the huge gap and it’s because we are not meeting local demand. In the early 1960s before the oil boom, Nigeria was exporting oil palm, but after that oil boom, we started importing and all forms of oil palm are finding their way to the Nigerian market,” he said.