Towards improved oil palm production: Solidaridad to the rescue

The global glut in oil palm production is already posing serious concern, but the government of Netherland is taking up the challenge as it boosts oil palm production in selected states in Nigeria. Writes ELEOJO IDACHABA.

As at the last count, Solidaridad West Africa has profiled more than 18,500 small-holder oil palm farmers and millers across the country especially in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Enugu and Kogi states all towards enhanced production of the crop in order to meet national needs.

This effort, according to investigation, is to support the agricultural transformation agenda of the federal government as well as respective state governments in order to encourage more farmers to embrace the oil palm intervention programme of the organisation. 

These achievements are made possible through The Kingdom of Netherland’s funded programme known as National Initiative for Sustainable Climate-Smart Oil Palm Small-holder (NISCOPS) being carried out in Nigeria.

To that extent, the ongoing digital profiling of small-holder farmers and farm mapping is a continuous process in the lifespan of NISCOPS which started in 2019 and would continue through 2023 in the initial phase during which more small-holder farmers would be registered in the database of the programme.
After the digital profiling and farm mapping, series of trainings have been lined up to build the capacities of the smallholder farmer on sustainable climate-smart oil palm production.

NISCOPS supports the governments of Nigeria and Ghana to work with farmers towards more sustainable, climate-smart palm oil production, build capacity of smallholder farmers, organisations and local institutions to improve performance, facilitate development of mechanisms for sustainable landscapes and halting deforestation. The programme is also contributing to the objective of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In its human capital development effort in Nigeria, 32 youths have been trained as enumerators in the use of digital tools for farmers and oil palm farm profiling in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Enugu and Kogi states. 

Specialists appraisals

Solidaridad’s senior climate specialist for Africa, Dr Sam Ogallah, said the role of private sector involvement in NISCOPS programme is key to the success of the programme in Nigeria just like all the participating states under the programme. He called on private sector to join hand with Solidaridad in its effort in the country.

“In the wake of Covid-19 pandemic leading to the collapse of the oil price on which Nigeria depends as the major income earning for the country, it is high time Nigeria started to invest in ‘the other oil’ which is palm oil as a way of increasing the contribution of the agriculture sector to the national GDP thereby reducing unemployment and poverty, but in the process create jobs for the masses in the country,” Dr Ogallah said.

According to Kene Onukwube, Solidaridad West Africa, Oil Palm programme manager for Nigeria, “NISCOPS’ overall intervention pushes Nigeria’s march towards making the SDGs and the Paris Agreements a reality. “Profiling of oil palm farmers and their farms elevates Nigeria digital agriculture profile in two significant ways: it enhances the structural aggregation of oil palm farmers into organised farmer groups as well as strategically positioning them for increased economic investments through proposed institutional interventions by government (e.g. through NIRSAL and other key policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria) and the private sector growth initiatives targeted at palm oil SMEs.”
In Nigeria, NISCOPS is being implemented by Solidaridad West Africa (SWA) in partnership with The Sustainable Trade Initiative (STI) While SWA implements in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Enugu and Kogi States, STI is implementing in Ondo and Edo states. 

About Solidaridad

Solidaridad is a Dutch-based international development organisation operating in 5 continents through eight regional expertise centres with its network secretariat in The Netherlands. The organisation has over 50 years of global experience working in the development of profitable supply chains, creating sustainable businesses and livelihoods by promoting good practices, climate-smart agriculture, robust infrastructure, enabling policy environment and sustainable landscape management.

It operates in five countries of Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast. Since 2013, SWA (Nigeria) has trained over 27,000 farmers on ‘good agriculture practices’ (GAP). About 78% of the producers trained have adopted GAP and there has been about 40% increase in productivity. In Nigeria, Solidaridad works also cut across various commodities in different parts of the country.

In addition, SWA in Nigeria services include supporting smallholder producers for increased productivity and improved facilities, market opportunities for farmers, facilitating  and negotiating position of producers and workers in supply chain, credit and input access for small and medium scale enterprise farmers and stimulating public-private partnership.
Nigeria is now a net importer of the product as she produces only 1.3 million metric tons of vegetable oil and imports over 350,000 metric tons of vegetable oil annually, expending an average of the naira equivalent of USD 500 million in foreign exchange.

What previous administration did

The oil palm transformation agenda launched by the- Goodluck-Jonathan administration was poised to reposition the nation to her lost glory as the highest producer of oil palm. An expected 250,000 hectares of land was projected to be under cultivation by 2015. The implementation plan saw the distribution of 1,395,000 nuts; capable of establishing 9,300 hectares being made available to 18 oil palm estates at an average of 75,000-82,500 nuts. Although it is not clear if the continuation can be beneficial to the industry and the country at large, judging from the current realities and the new administration’s zero tolerance for past administration’s policies.

As at today, world demand for vegetable oil rose sharply from 100 million tons in 2005 to an estimated 150 million tons in 2020 as the world population continues to grow and the standards of living increase in many developing countries. The role of oil palm as a supply of relatively inexpensive and versatile edible oil is therefore expected to become ever more prominent. However, there are concerns about the impact of oil palm production on deforestation which may threaten the use of the product in the future but for now, it is still an important member of the crop family.

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