By Oludele Taiwo
The National President of National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN), Alphonsus Inyang, has lamented that despite possessing huge potentials to become a global player, Africa’s oil palm industry has remained largely untapped due to the absence of governance structure, inadequate funding, very limited access to hybrid nuts and latest technology, among others.
He stated that opportunities exist for investment in palm oil production across the overall value chain, including improving the processing technology, upgrading the varieties of existing palm plantations with newer higher oil content varieties, exportation, and marketing.
“I would like to say that Africa can no longer afford to be a spectator in its own story; we have lagged behind for far too long, but we are now ready to turn our potential to performance”, he added.
He noted that the export demand for palm oil was also very high and that China, India, and the European market – mainly Italy, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom and The Netherlands, are high importers of palm oil for use in their food, cosmetic, biomass, and confectionery industries. Marketing and branding of quality palm oil products, in particular, is very lucrative for investors and has low customer attraction rates because of the proliferation of adulterated palm oil in the markets. New market demands by the feed industry for palm kernel cake; a by-product in the processing of palm oil, because of its high protein content (22%) is also an opportunity for investment and market growth”, he added.
He thereby called on Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and other leading countries in oil palm production to join forces with African countries via technology sharing, capacity building, investments and ideas exchange.“We have only just begun to scratch the surface; the global demand for palm oil will keep increasing and we want a piece of that proverbial pie. We also call on development partners and the specialists in oil palm to share their success stories with us that we may learn from their experience,” he said.
However, he stated that NPPAN, being the umbrella body for all smallholder farmers, processors, among others under his leadership, had been mobilising and sensitising smallholder oil palm farmers in rural communities to embrace newer technologies in production and processing of oil palm.
Inyang stated further that in the last 10 years, the association had seen some investors; retired civil servants, professionals, key portfolio managers, politicians among others show interest in the oil palm industry due to the huge potentials, but that these interests had barely translated into major investments due to absence of governance structure.
“It’s important to note that we are also focusing on women and youths, especially as they are the major drivers of growth of the oil palm industry in the rural areas. We have also developed a Strategic Planning on Oil Palm Sector Development 2023 – 2027 targeted at an annual new plantation of 250,000 hectares to create five million jobs as well as lift 22.5 million Nigerians out of poverty; over 50 per cent comprising youths and women”, he added.