Business

Expert tasks government agencies to support oil palm research

JOHNMARK UKOKO

Managing Director of Presco Plc, Felix Nwabuko, has urged government agencies to support oil palm research to boost export and economic development.

Nwabuko made the call while addressing oil palm stakeholders at Presco Plantation site at Ologbo, near Benin City, Edo State, on the sidelines of the Seed Evidence Day.

He said research was the only way to go to sustain investments and development of oil palm production in the country, adding that smallholder and out-grower farmers were crucial to the development of the sector.

He, however, commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for its efforts to sustain growth in the sector, maintaining that challenges posed by inadequate land for large scale expansion had made collaboration with smallholder farmers imperative.

Also speaking, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security, Stephen Idehenre, said the Edo State government was working hard to boost oil palm production in the state.

Idehenre said the state government was collaborating with Presco and other stakeholders to produce quality seedlings for Nigeria and the international markets.

On his part, President of the Nigeria Agricultural Business Group (NABG), Emmanuel Ijewere, described oil palm as “the future of Nigeria and Africa’s economy.”

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In his presentation, representative of Siat Group, Rein Dan, who spoke on the outcome of the research conducted with partners of the group, said the development would boost growth and sustain profitability.

He said Siat Group started a 20-year collaboration with CLRAD, PALME and other organisations to the project implemented at Presco to pioneer the establishment of trials covering some 500 hectares of land.

“This project, developed in Africa and one of the largest of its kind in the world, engages over 120 full time workers to monitor the growth, production and oil extraction rate. Results indicate that oil yield in Nigeria has reached over five times more than the global average.

These efforts by ensuring perpetual and regional adaptation, not only provide the Siat Group with guaranties regarding materials used. It also safeguards the sustainable growth of the African Oil palm industry in general, primarily by increasing yield and thus reducing the need for land conversion or deforestation,” he said.

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