NPPAN Frowns At CBN Loans Denial To Smallholder Oil Palm Producers

T he National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN) has expressed displeasure over the lukewarm attitude of the Central Bank of Bank of Nigeria (CBN) towards granting loans to smallholder oil palm farmers in the country. NNPAN argued that the continued denial of credit facilities to smallholder-oil-palm farmers to expand their plantations in the country, by the CBN, was the major reason for the importation of palm oil into the country thereby depriving the federal government foreign exchange earnings. It noted that the country has spent huge amount of foreign exchange on the importation of palm oil. The president of the association, Mr Alphonsus Inyang, made known the position of his members while speaking at a working visit of the governing board of the Nigerian Shippers Council; Nigerian Export Promotion Council; National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACIMA); Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria (FACAN) and the representative of 11 palm oil producing states, who were in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom capital, to brainstorm on the possibilities of establishing export architecture for oil palm products in the country. Inyang alleged that the CBN lending policy was not favourable to smallholder oil plam farmers but rather of advantage to oil majors that are of foreign-owned companies such as Messrs Prescop PLC; Okumo; Dufil; PZ Wilmars, among others. He advocated the use of smallholding oil palm estates as collateral for funding by the CBN, noting with dismay that if the situation continues unabated, in the next five to 10 years, oil palm farmers and plantation owners in the country would be exposed to a serious challenge in the production of palm oil. Inyang explained that the main objectives of the gathering in Uyo was for the participants to brainstorm on the challenges of how the leadership and membership of the National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN) could put a stop to foreign exchange spending that Nigeria was losing on the importation of palm oil into the country for consumption. The NPPAN president noted with dismay that Malaysia and Indonesia that were in Nigeria to pick palm seedlings for cultivation have suddenly become the leading producers of palm oil in the world. Inyang observed that Indonesia today has 12 million hectares of land cultivated with improved oil palm seedlings with Malaysia having eight million hectares of land cultivated with oil palm trees. He said Nigeria, being the fifth largest producer of palm oil, has only 380 hectares of land for the cultivation of oil palm trees out of which the country is producing only 1.5 percent of the total global output that is not even enough for local consumption. The president drew the attention of the federal government to the high cost of processing palm oil for consumption, noting that Nigeria, being a member of the palm oil producing countries of the world, should evolve measures aimed at reducing the cost of palm oil production as obtainable in Europe, Indonesia and Malaysia. On the way forward for oil palm producers, Inyang advocated the formation of Palm Oil Producers Development Council to give farmers the synergy for growth, as obtainable in Indonesia that also has a Board of Directors governing their activities and programmes. The chairman, Commodity Committee of the governing board of the Nigerian Shippers Council, Mr Lawal Abdullahi, said his delegation was in Uyo to rub minds with the leadership and members with a view to boosting the production and exportation of palm produce towards earning significant foreign exchange for Nigeria. Abdullahi called for the production of high quality palm oil, devoid of adulteration as perpetrated by selfish dealers who engage in the unwholesome act to earn high profits, noting with delight that palm oil produced from Akwa Ibom was of high demand for consumption the world over. Accompanied by Ajiya Hawa Muhammad, Alhaji Kasim Ahmed, Oluseyi Adedayo, Chief Solomon A site, Dr Victor Iyama, Surveyor Adekombi and Mrs Ada Okam, the chairman explained that with high quality palm oil, the producers would not have any difficulties in selling their products in the market. Abdullahi urged the state government to be willing to assist oil palm farmers and plantation owners in the processing of high quality and standard palm oil to attract high demand across the countries of the world, as well as sign Certificates of Occupancy (Cof O) or titled document to enable oil palm farmers to expand their businesses. Abdullahi emphasized the need for oil palm farmers to engage their children in the production, maintenance and processing of the tree crop as a way of encouraging continuity. Participants were drawn from 11 oil palm producing states of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, Imo, Ondo and Osun at the working visit of the Commodity Committee of the Governing Board of the Nigerian Shoppers Council (NSC) to the National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN) to facilitate the establishment of an export architecture for oil palm products.

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