Palm oil can generate N7.8bn forex for Nigeria


By LAZ IBEABUCHI

Nigeria can generate excess of N7.8 billion ($50 million) annually in foreign exchange if palm oil is harnessed and developed, says Professor Peter Onwualu, DG, Raw Material Research and Development Council, RMRDC.

Professor Peter who was quoted in Nigerian Association of Commerce, Industry, Mines and agriculture, NACCIMA’s publication, June edition, said this can be achieved if the challenges facing the industry are addressed. These challenges include: use of overage palm tree; predominance of wild palm grooves; water related stress resulting from erratic rainfall; neglect and failure of extension officers to educate farmers.

NACCIMA in its report said the global palm oil industry has an estimated value of N24.16 trillion ($155 billion), and by year 2020, it is projected to worth about N25.72 trillion ($165 billion).

Looking at the market price of palm oil which is very attractive, the report said apart from the fact that palm oil price has been on a steady increase, rising from $424 per tone in 2006 to $824 in 2007, and $1146 in 2010.

Today, a gallon (3.751) of palm oil sells between $18 and $25, depending on the grade. Besides, at current, annual growth rate of 7.88 per cent, world consumption of palm oil is expected to rise from 28.12 million tones in 2004 to 43.2 million tones in 2020.

Different segments of the industry that can be explored include palm oil extraction and processing; palm oil wine tapping; palm wine processing, palm nurseries development and marketing of palm produce, research and development.

Others according to NACCIMA are palm oil and kernel processing plant development and installation; manufacture of soap and detergents; pomades, margarine, biscuits; transport and marketing of palm produce; plantations development and management, harvesting and post harvest handling.

Citing Profesor Ike Oluka, Dean of Engineering at the Enugu State University of science and technology, the report said that in recent years, technology has expanded the applications of the palm tree to the extent of converting the entire biomass harvested from the palm plantation into renewable electricity, cellulosic ethanol, bio gas, bio-hydrogen and bio-plastics.

“The successful application of oil and palm trunk to mulch-industrial usage offers huge economic opportunity for job creation and economic empowerment of our people if property harnessed,” Professor Ike said.


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