By Peterson Ibi/Benin
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emiefele, has reiterated the apex bank’s commitment to reviving the oil palm sector with a view to stopping importation of the commodity.
He stated this over the weekend in Benin, Edo state, at a town hall meeting organised by the Oil Palm Growers Association of Nigeria (OPGAN), to proffer solutions to the dwindling fortune of the oil palm sector in Nigeria.
The event was held at the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR), Benin.
Emiefele, who was represented at the event by his Special Adviser on Development Finance, Mr. Anthony Ufechukwu, said the CBN is very emphatic about reviving the oil palm sector.
“In doing this, we started by reaching out to large companies like Presco, Okomu and others, with a view to ensuring that they plant and assist small scale farmers but we are not getting the results.
“So, we are going down to the roots to interact with small scale farmers who cultivate about one to five hectares, to have a strong union to promote themselves in the oil palm industry.
“I know that OPGAN group consist of persons who provide more than 90 percent of oil palm consumed in households in Nigeria,” he said.
He noted that the farmers under a good organisation, the apex bank would be able to fund them, including insurance package for the farmers.
According to Emiefele, OPGAN will be self-sustaining in 10 years from now.
National President of OPGAN, Mr. Joe Onyiuke, said the meeting was to rally support fron the federal government to revive the oil palm sector.
“We are in NIFOR today to strategise on the way forward on the ANCHOR Borrower’s Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)
“More importantly, to commission our new liaison office in NIFOR, which is key to us as oil palm farmers.
“With this office, our farmers will be able to get all the benefits and training required for the cultivation of oil palm.
“You can see that we have representative of the CBN, commercial banks and insurance companies here.
“To discuss the terms and conditions that is required to make us eligible to participate in the ANCHOR Borrower’s programme of the CBN,” he said.
Dr Peter Osagiede, the Edo chairman of OPGAN, urged all its members to buy improved seedlings from NIFOR to guarantee increased production.
“We are here today to open an office where we would be liaising with NIFOR for improved seedlings.
From today we are going back to our farms to produce oil palm for local consumption and to also earn foreign exchange,” he said.
Thee Executive Director of NIFOR, Mr. Celestine Ikuenobe, welcome the farmers to the Edo and NIFOR.
Ikuenobe told the farmers that the mandate of the institute was to transfer knowledge to farmers and create national wealth.
He explained that the value chain in oil palm was enormous adding that farmers have in the past failed to take advantage of its improved seedlings in NIFOR.