Worried about 55 per cent importation of the total volume of palm oil consumed in Nigeria, the Mike Omotosho Foundation has established a N2 billion palm plantation in Kwara State.
Founder and initiator of the project, Dr. Mike Omotosho stated this weekend in Abuja while briefing journalists ahead of the forthcoming annual lecture of the foundation, themed; ‘Increased Agricultural Productivity for Sustainable Economic Growth.’
Omotosho revealed that the His Imperial Majesty, Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II would give the keynote address at the annual lecture which is coming up on Saturday, January 14, 2017.
He noted that with the economic recession, dwindling in prices of oil, it was high time government start to look elsewhere. He added that while government is on the right track in terms of agricultural policies, he believed government has not done enough, hence, the reason while private individuals like himself are now taking interest in agriculture.
Omotosho stated that the foundation aside from organising annual lecture has a 15,000 hectares of farmland, out of which 300 hectares has been cultivated and presently being used as demonstration farm.
“We also have an agricultural academy so people can come in and learn about agriculture. We want to use that as a pilot and then we can replicate the demonstration farm with the agricultural academy. So far, over 500 people have being trained and we are hoping we glare going to increase this to about 50,000 next year because it is still at the pilot stage,” he said.
Adding that; “Right now 55% of oil palm we use in Nigeria is imported. What we are hoping for is N2 billion worth of palm plantation because we have plans to set up Africa largest palm plantation and that is what 12,000 hectares of land is meant for.”
According to Omotosho, if Nigeria become Africa largest producer of palm, not only would the country have enough to consume, but also to export.
“I see a situation where we will begin to export palm between 5-6 years. Just because we have 15,000 hectares of land does not mean we are not planning to expand beyond that,” he stated.
While explaining why he allotted 12,000 hectares of farmland to palm plantation alone, he emphasised that; “the palm tree is one of the agricultural commodity that every part of it is useful for something, is just that the oil appears to be the one with highest economic value and once you start a farm plantation.
“Subsequently, once it begins to produce within three to five years it can continue producing between 25 to 200 years, it is not like a cash crop maize that you plant this year, you harvest next year and is gone. So, if you truly wants something sustainable you have to be looking into the future,” Omotosho said.
He also revealed that the foundation would not just be producing the palm and sending away, but it would also have mills of the farmland to process the palm oil, stressing that within the next 5-7 years that the foundation should be able to provide jobs for 15,000 people working on the farm.