Crude Oil Discovery Responsible for Oil Palm Neglect - Akpabio
08 Apr 2010
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Chief Godswill O. Akpabio has blamed the present neglect of the hitherto robust oil palm sector in the sate on the discovery of crude oil in the country in the late 50s.
Chief Akpabio who made the assertion Tuesday when consultants of a Malaysian-based AgriNexus International paid him a courtesy visit in his office noted that Nigeria had a robust oil palm production from the defunct Eastern Region that comprised South-East and South-South.
Akpabio recalled that Malaysia that picked seedlings of oil palm trees from Nigeria years ago was witnessing high yields and was earning more revenue from exports of oil palm to other countries, saying ‘’There was need for us to replicate the Malaysian concepts, technology and funding of the oil palm production’’.
He castigated the operation of oil palm mills by individuals in Nigeria as analogue against the establishment of oil palm refineries in Malaysia as digital, assuring that Akwa Ibom Government would be sending its citizens to Malaysia for training on transfer of technology.
‘’We are looking for strategic partners in agricultural revolution. This administration is poised to make headway in agriculture. It is time we diversified the economy. The cost of selling oil palm per barrel is higher than that of the crude oil ’’, the Governor stated.
Governor Akpabio emphasised the need to enhance high yield of oil palm trees and to use the Community Development Schemes in Esit Eket and Oruk Anam as nucleus of the revolutionised palm oil industry in the state.
While commending the Commissioner of Agriculture for his vision in sourcing for experts and consultants to revolutionise agriculture in the state, he stressed the need for the people to lay a solid foundation in agriculture to aid the establishment of multiplier industries.
The facilitator of the visit, Engr. Ufot Ebong remarked that Malaysia employs 570,000 people in the oil palm sector and exports to 140 countries including Nigeria.
Engr. Ufot who is also a Senior Manager in Shell Petroleum Development Company pointed out that Akwa Ibom sits in the oil palm belt like Malaysia and Indonesia, explaining that oil palm products could be used for pharmaceutical purposes and other allied industries as well as provide jobs for the rising population.
Earlier, the team leader and a consultant of AgriNexus International, Nagaratnam Mootatamby said some years ago the seedlings of oil palm tree travelled from Nigeria to Malaysia and Indonesia and that their visit was to ensure the golden crop finds its way back to the Country.
‘’Your manpower is strong but the process of harvesting is lacking behind. There is need for transfer of technology, transfer of skill management and funding’’, Mootatamby said.
He called for feasibility study, recommendations, mapping, models development and integration of some cash crops such as rubber to have a higher yields of oil palm trees.
The consultant observed that thousands of abandoned oil palm plantations in the state could be reactivated while individuals should set up oil palm mills to serve as nucleus to attracting potential local and international investors.