Red Palm Oil Tree Plantation is one of the most useful plantation in the world. Nothing in palm tree that is not useful, from the fruit to the palm frond, everything is used for one thing or the other that brings benefit to man. The use of red oil palm fruit to extract edible and useful red oil has been in practice all over the world for many centuries.
Almost the entire economy of countries such as Malaysia depends of palm oil plantation and exportation. Making the country one of the biggest player in the palm oil industry. They account for the estimated 5% of global productions. Malaysia is currently producing more than 20 million tonnes of palm oil and holds the second largest palm oil producer position in the world.
According to tales, Malaysia got their palm fruit from Nigeria who used to be the origin of this product and one of the biggest producer in the past. Whether that is true is yet to be verified. But what really happened to this sector of viable agriculture in Nigeria? If the wealth of entire nation could depend on this product, does that not tell you the amount of revenue in palm oil plantation business that we are neglecting?
Palm oil is the red oil extract from the oil palm fruit ‘Elaeis guineensis’ while palm kernel oil is also derived from the seed of the same oil palm fruit. Palm oil is the best cooking oil in the world due to its low content of cholesterol. It is a healthy cooking oil, more health than the vegetable oil in the market.
Palm oil is sold both in the local and international markets. If you have good quantity of palm oil, selling it is never a problem because it is a product that always in high demand. A good palm oil plantation is capable of producing thousands of tonnes of palm oil in a year that can be sold for million of naira in the local market. It can also be exported to oversea and sell for foreign currency.
Why are Nigerian farmer shying away from this goldmine? The main reason most Nigerians farmers are not paying attention to oil palm tree plantation is because they think palm tree take so many years to mature to the point of production, therefore they are not ready to wait. That is total ignorance. There are varieties of palm tree that starts producing just two years after planting.
This means, if you start your own palm oil tree plantation this year, you start harvesting your palm produce in two years time! If that is the case, then what are you waiting for? Start planting your own palm oil tree plantation now and let’s see how it goes in two years time.
This is how to proceed with setting up your palm oil tree plantation.
Look For Suitable Land
Almost all lands in Nigeria, especially East and West is suitable for palm tree survival and proper yield. Get a good quantity of land in acres in a good location. Good location I mean land in a place that is motorable, at least tractors and lorries would be able to get in there.
If you are not sure of the quality of the soil, whether it is suitable for palm tree plantation or not, you can take the sample to Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR). They will be able to analyze and make recommendation. You can get much more additional information from them as regard your venture and the merits.
After buying the land, you prepare it in good condition. I recommend that you use Tractor Soil Pulverizers to loosen the soil, pulverize, and level packed or encrusted soils. Remove hard roots in preparation for palm seedlings, making the soil well suited for planting.
Before preparing the land, you have to get the palm nursery ready. You have two options, either to germinate your own seeds or buy already germinated seedlings.
Germinate Your Own Seeds
Get the high yield seed from the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research or any other places you can find it and make it germinate. If you do not take care of the seeds, it will take several years before they germinate. To make it germinate fast, the seeds are kept in a very hot room. This makes the seeds to germinate in about 90 to 100 days.
When the seeds are germinated, you transfer them into small plastic container with black loam manured oil. They will grow new leaf every month. The young seedlings will stays in the container for 4 to 5 months. When the seedling begins to bring out new leaf with two points (bifid leaf) you start transplanting to the nursery.
The seedlings will stay in the nursery for 1 year. By that time, they will have about 15 green leaves. Then you finally transplant them into your prepared farm land. The overall period it will take before the seedlings are transplanted into the farm is 15 to 17 months old.
Or you can just go to the agricultural institute to buy already prepared seedling at about N120 per seedling. If you are planting 10,000 palms, you will have to have 120 x 10,000 = N1.2 Million. So, germinating your own seedling is less costly but takes some times.
Planting Your Seedlings
You palm need to be planted preferably at the rainy season when it will have enough water in the soil for sustaining the young palm. Plant with proper spacing, taking into cognizance grown period when the palm frond will be spread all over the place.
My experience with palm oil plantation according to a Nairaland user. I started my own oil palm nursery in early 2011 with 1575 seeds, bought from NIFOR at N15,000 per pack, each pack had 525 seeds. I grew the nursery for 14 months. by June 2012 I cleared land for planting. pegging was carried out, then digging and planting. 1050 trees were planted, it took me almost 4 weeks with 10 men to carry out the all work on a 7 hectare farm.
Spacing Palm Oil Tree Plantation
Spacing for my palms was 7 meters by 7 meters in a triangle. First weeding and fertilizer application was carried out after 3 months. NPK Fertilizer was applied to each palm tree. Second weeding was done 3 months latter, towards the end of the raining season. By may this year, I had carried out first weeding and fertilizer application 1 bought 3 bags of NPK Fertilizers at N6,800 per bag (open market price, may 2013) most of the labor was done by myself with the help of some relative. The land used is inherited land. the money I have spend thus far is around N250,000.
It is important to plant at the right density, the spacing in the above quotation is considered low density and low density oil palm doesn’t produce well. Therefore, to be sure of the right density before planting, you must peg out the area properly. The distance must be the same between rows and in each row should also be the same distance between oil palms.
If the oil palms are planted too close together, the roots get in each others way, and the leaves do not have enough air and sun: the yield will be low. If the oil palms are not planted close enough together, each separate tree produces much, but the roots do not use all the soil: the yield per hectare will be low.
The Proper Pegging Measurement
Trace lines across the slope and put in your pegs in straight lines; leave 7.8 meters between rows and 9 metres between pegs. In this way you can plant 143 oil palms per hectare; this is the best density. Pull out tree stumps and remove fallen trees close to the pegs, because these stumps and trees would interfere with the oil palms.
Having done your part of setting up your oil palm plantation in Nigeria, the next is to maintain it and wait for your yield. Palm tree starts yielding fruits just two years after planting. From that moment onwards, you will be harvesting cash all year round for generations.