From Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
The National President of the National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN), Alphonsus Inyang, says that Imo State and Nigeria, in general, can generate more than a million jobs and millions of dollars in foreign exchange from supporting cultivation and processing of palm oil.
Inyang, who made the remark at the National Executive Council meeting of the association on Saturday in Owerri, the Imo State capital, described the palm tree as a tree of life, adding that Nigeria has large arable land that could be put to good use in the cultivation of palm oil.
He expressed NPPAN’s preparedness to synergise with state governments toward ensuring that Imo and other states develop their production and processing capacity to compete favourably with other countries.
‘We have the technical ability, experience and membership to assist Imo state reactivate Ada Palm. Imo State Government should work with us because we are partnering with CBN to access the Oil Palm Development Initiative Fund (OPDIF),’ he said.
‘We have lots of access to lots of funding that could lead to a huge boost in developing small holders farmers and strengthens, processing activities of oil palm business.
‘Investing hugely in the palm oil business will also help to insulate our economy from the volatility associated with changes in crude oil price,’ he said.
Also speaking, Engr Adaugo Obi, NIPPAN National Financial Secretary, said: ‘Today, everybody talks about crude oil but fails to understand that no crude oil well has lasted over 40 years but palm tree can last for 70 years and more.’
She said Nigerians are complaining of youth unemployment and restiveness when according to her, we have an oil industry that can engage practically everybody if well developed.
‘I am of the opinion that our youth should stop looking for white-collar jobs because the government can not employ everybody. I also want to encourage the federal government, all state governments and everybody to key into palm oil business because you do not need a degree to plant or venture into palm business,’ Obi said.