The Managing Director, Jekon Integrated Farms Nig. Ltd., Uyo, Mr. Godswealth Henry, on Tuesday urged the Federal and State Governments to establish oil palm industrial parks in the country.
Henry told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in an interview in Lagos that the parks would provide a sustainable solution to the scarcity and high cost of palm oil during its flat season.
According to him, oil palm stakeholders have severally made known the need for the industrial parks to relevant authorities at the Federal and State levels.
“For years, most of the palm plantations have folded up and Nigeria is nowhere now in terms of palm estates that used to be the pride of the nation.
“Majority of oil palm farmers is poor and still doing the farming and production of palm oil at peasant level.
“We need to come out of this peasant level farming.
“The nation can do this through having cluster villages for oil palm farmers in all the oil palm producing states,’’ he said.
Henry said that this would help the country introduce mechanized oil palm farming and production as well as have palm oil all year round.
“Most farmers still use climbing with rope method to harvest palm fruits while other countries have harvesting forks and improved seedlings that they can harvest standing on the ground,’’ he said.
Henry said that oil palm pick season starts February and ends mid-June, while the flat season starts mid-June and ends January.
According to him, during the flat season, Nigeria imports palm oil from Cameroon through Cross River State and Ghana through Badagry in Lagos State.
The managing director said that this trend would continue unless Nigeria establishes a development corporation similar to Cameroon Development Corporation Producing Palm Oil (CDCPPO).
He said that the CDCPPO produced high-quality palm oil which fed the local and foreign markets.
According to him, the CDCPPO now controls the West African palm oil export market.
Henry said that Nigeria could do the same by making the environment conducive for the development of oil palm industrial parks.