Solidaridad Nigeria, an NGO has appealed to various state governments to leverage on the potential in oil palm to grow their economies.
Mr Kene Onukwube, the Programme Manager, Oil Palm, Solidaridad Nigeria made the appeal at a workshop and policy dialogue with the theme: “Pathways to Inclusive Policies and Climate Resilient Oil Palm Development in Nigeria’’.
The event was organised by Solidaridad Nigeria with funding from the Government of the Netherlands.
Onukwube said that transforming the oil palm industry would improve the overall economic well-being of many states being a potential productive sector that could be used to diversify the economy.
He said that millions of smallholder farmers and workers were earning their livelihoods in the oil palm sector, which in turn provided an important contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
According to him, there is an increasing demand for palm oil globally, however, the production of the commodity has not necessarily resulted in beneficial returns to smallholders in Nigeria and West Africa.
He said that with Nigeria’s ranking as 5th producer of palm oil globally, the commodity had the potential to generate revenues for many states.
“Currently palm oil is being produced in 25 states in Nigeria and aside the fact that each of the states has potential to become self-sustaining from palm oil, it is a very good sector for job creation,’’ Onukwube said.
He, however, emphasised the need to address some challenges militating against the growth of the oil palm sub-sector.
According to him, Nigeria’s oil palm sector has nosedived with huge amount going into importation of palm oil annually.
“Over 500 million dollars goes into importation of oil annually and from this we find ourselves away from our position as the prime producer of oil globally,’’ he said.
He identified insufficient budgetary allocations, weak and poorly articulated sub-sectoral governance structure as major issues that must be addressed.
Others are weak implementation of inclusive policies that enhance the oil palm social-ecology and poorly articulated relevant international protocols.