Nigeria could be making at least eight billion naira annually if it had maintained its market share of palm oil production from what it had in the 1960s, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina has said.
The minister said this on Thursday during the signing ceremony of an agreement between the government and eighteen palm oil plantation farmers, marking the formal take off of the "2012 estate component of activities of the palm oil value chain".
Adesina harped that,"instead of fighting over crude oil, today it is about going back to reclaim our dominant role in the market as far as palm oil is concerned." He added that "the initiative is in line with government's efforts to enable private sector led agricultural transformation".
The participating palm oil plantation estates which span across eleven states - Kogi, Edo, Ondo, Delta, Cross River, Ogun, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Abia, Osun and Enugu - are all private sector operators and are to get not less than 500 hectares land concessions to plant in 2013.
Akinwumi explained that the government's Agricultural Transformation Agenda, plans to support the production of 240, 000 hectares in the next three years by small holder farmers and estates, and has set a target of raising 9 million improved "tenera sprouted nuts into mature seedling for the establishing of 60,000 hectares in 2013".
Dr Akinwumi Adesina said "Nigeria accounted for 27 percent of the global market of palm oil in 1961.Our production declined from 167,000 metric tonnes in 1961 to 25,000 metric tonnes by 2008.in the same period global palm oil expanded from 629,000 metric tonnes in 1961 to 33.3 million metric tonnes."
He lamented that Malaysia which is the second largest palm oil producing country, second to Indonesia, collected its first improved nuts from Nigeria, now earns 18 billion dollars per year from palm oil production.