Stakeholders in the palm industry have lamented what the country is losing for not tapping into the global palm biomass market. They urged the federal and the state governments to support the development of palm biomass so as to tap into the trillion-dollar global market. The stakeholders, in separate interviews, also stated that the nation is capable of generating over US$60 billion to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, if the development of palm biomass is fully incorporated.
Several products that can be produced from palm oil biomass include; organic fertilizer, mattresses, highly efficient briquettes that can replace firewood without deforestation or any harm to the environment, wood and furniture products including medium-density fibreboard (MDF), high-density fiberboard (HDF), doors, particles boards, plywood, floor tiles, and brake pads, among several others. Nigeria currently imports all the above-mentioned products from China and other parts of the world, which is having a negative impact on the nation’s furniture industry, and the importation bill of these runs into billions of dollars. Also worthy of note is that palm biomass can generate electricity for industrial and domestic purposes, as it is being utilised in Japan, Indonesia and other industrialised countries.
The National President of the National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN), Alphonsus Inyang, noted that in the last three years, the association had been conducting research into various uses of the agricultural waste that comes out of the palm tree; and that the study had taken the association to Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Japan where palm biomass is currently being used in very large quantities.
He stated further that the association had engaged with experts from around these countries to see how Nigeria can develop and promote this commodity. “During this period, we were able to engage with, and sign agreements with the best experts in palm biomass development in the world and consultants, who can assist Nigeria in developing this huge multi-billion dollar industry. Inyang also said that the amount of palm biomass that we have in Nigeria, the raw materials could be used for over 50 years.
“We have research into this and we have dedicated experts in turning the waste of palm trees into wealth in billions of dollars and we are working to see how we can work with the Federal Government and some state governments to develop these huge resources that are wasting away. We want to work with this government to be able to develop this industry. Speaking further, the NPPAN President called for partnership between the government and the association so as to release the secret they have based on the research they have done on palm biomass. “We can turn Nigeria into an industrial county, we would produce a minimum of 10 industrial products that we can be self-sufficient and export to other countries from this waste that is littering everywhere.
“Working with our association, we have designed a programme and a model that will see to the engagement and gainful employment of at least five million Nigerian youths and women across the country within four years. Let this President invite us, we will go and tell him the secret that is in palm biomass”, he added. A former National President of NPPAN, Henry Olatujoye, stated that palm biomass is cheap, accessible and available and a game changer, if it can be developed and harnessed. He said in the production of palm oil, almost 70 per cent of the bunches are turned into waste in the likes of empty fruit bunch, shell, fibre, effluent, water and other trace elements like calcium, potassium and nitrogen.
“In the same vein, during harvesting, the palm fronds, sterile, and undeveloped fruits are waste produced. This means a big chunk of waste is produced in the process of palm oil production. This waste has been adjudged to have the potential to generate heat energy when properly harnessed and can also be used in the production of organic materials’’, Olatujoye said. He lamented that Nigeria had not fully taken advantage of palm biomass despite its potentials to produce sustainable heat energy and that local farmers use palm biomass effectively, but crudely managed.