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Nigeria moves to boost palm oil production through climate-smart agriculture

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The stakeholders met at a workshop tagged “Achieving an Economic and Social Ecological Resilient Palm Oil Sector: Context and Policy Direction” on Thursday, November 16, 2023, in Abuja.

The policy dialogue was organised to provide a viable avenue for stakeholders talk about sustainable climate smart agriculture practices as the norm in oil palm production.

Mr Eniola Fabusoro, Senior Programme Manager, IDH, said the aim of the workshop was to draw the attention of Federal Government to boosting palm oil production with climate smart agriculture.

Fabusoro described Nigeria as one of the major producers of palm oil in West Africa with states like cross River, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Ondo and Kogi, among others, in the frontline.

He said the states had the largest concentration of independent smallholders of 89 per cent of palm oil producers in Nigeria.

Fabusoro said that being sustainable in palm oil production meant sustainable production of climate smart agriculture for oil palm and opportunities for smallholder farmers to make wealth.

“We are talking about access to finance; we are talking about regenerative practices; we are talking about quality improvement; talking about private sector engagement and talking about partnership,” he said.

Dr Celestine Ikuenobe, the immediate past Executive Director of the National Institute for Research (NIFOR), said Nigeria required about Over 3 million tonnes of palm oil annually but could only produce about 1.4 million tonnes internally.

Ikuenobe said the reason for the inadequate production of palm oil was the growing population of over 200 million people depending on the same size of land when the production used to be more than enough.

”Our population is over 200 million people and getting palm oil from about same amount of land and amount of growers even though we produce more than what we use to produce before,’’ he said.

He said that Nigeria hade less than 800,000 hectares under cultivated while Indonesia hade 16.3 million hectares and Malaysia had 65.6 million hectares they cultivated on.

Mr George Ajabor, Secretary General Oil Palm Grower Association of Nigeria (OPGAN), said there was an urgent need for government and other partnering agencies to focus on training farmers as it would help increase productivity.

He said increasing production might lead to deforestation; hence, the need for farmers to be trained on climate smart agriculture to increase production without endangering the environment.

He said funding was another major challenge to smallholder farmers and appealed to government to support farmers with the needed funds.

As the programme unfolds in six strategic states – Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Ondo, Enugu, and Kogi – it promises not just increased palm oil production but to be a paradigm shift towards a sustainable, climate-smart future for the nation.