Nigeria now spends $500m pa as NEPC builds capacity for palm oil export in Cross River

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* Says Nigeria imports 450,000 tons of oil palm yearly

In its commitment to the diversification of the productive base of the Nigerian economy, away from the oil sector through the development of non oil sector, the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) on Thursday held a one day capacity workshop to position the oil palm sub sector in cross River State.

The executive director, Olusegun Awolowo, said in 2017, Nigeria imported 450,000 ton’s of palm oil to the tune of N116.3Bn which he said is worrisome because this is a country that once controlled about 60 per cent of global palm oil market.

Awolowo said this in a keynote address at a one day capacity building workshop to encourage oil palm export in Cross River State.

The CEO who was represented by the Trade Promotion Advisor in Calabar office, Emmanuel Etim, said the annual oil palm demand of Nigeria stands at about 2.5 million metric tons whereas the local  production stands at 1.25 million tons, leaving a gap of 1.25 mmt, saying it was on that note that about N30Bn is being made available to stakeholders by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

According to Awolowo, apart from the present high and still growing demand, oil palm produce is highly priced globally, especially in non-producing countries.

In his welcome address, Etim said significantly, Cross River State has huge oil palm products potential across the 18 local government areas, stressing that palm oil is category ‘A’ strategic export product in the priority sector in the zero oil plan.

Etim disclosed that the one day capacity building workshop on the theme; “Sensitising the Cross River State oil palm value chain for export, is directed towards achieving greater output for export.

In a goodwill message, Eta Ndoma Ndoma, President Calabar Chamber of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture (CACCCIMA) said Nigeria is the 5th largest producer of oil palm globally with an annual production of 970 mmt and Cross River State is 2nd to largest producer after Edo State.

The President whose goodwill message was read by Kenneth Asim Ita, the executive secretary, further disclosed that Cross River State produces over 200,000 metric tons of palm oil per annum with over 18,000 farmers involved in oil palm cultivation.

Chairman of Oil Palm Growers Association, Owali Illem, said the decline of oil palm production since the end of the civil war has been fast.

According to him, Nigeria is now depending on imports to satisfy our domestic needs. He said in 2015, Nigeria was spending about 59.1Bn a year in importing oil palm produce. This year he said we are now importing oil palm to the tune of $500m a year.

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