The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday resolved to urge the Federal Government to ban the importation of palm oil/kernel, and inject funds to aid its local production.
The senators also urged the private sector to partner state governments to embark on the transformation of palm oil production, and on creation of allied industries through ”backward integration.”
The lawmakers also resolved to mandate the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development to invite the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) on why it has failed to deliver on its mandate.
The resolutions were reached after deliberating on a motion titled, ‘Urgent need to halt the importation of palm oil and its allied products to protect the palm oil/kernel industry in Nigeria’ sponsored by Francis Alimikhena (APC, Edo North).
Mr. Alimikhena expressed concern at the unbridled importation of palm kernel and allied palm products into Nigeria, describing it as threatening the Federal Government’s campaign for the diversification of the economy through increased agricultural production and exports.
He also explained that since 2017, Nigeria has imported 450,000 tons of palm oil to the tune of N116.3billion, adding that “it is as grim a reality as it is worrisome.”
“With an ever increasing population, a steady decline in palm oil production, and a proliferation of the uses of various products from palm oil, it is an economic fact that there is high demand for palm oil in Nigeria”, he said.
The lawmaker said that developing the oil palm industry is one of the ways that Nigeria can reduce poverty and create mass employment.
“The government should, therefore, encourage the development of this important cash crop, which significantly contributed to the economy of the defunct Eastern Region of Nigeria during the First Republic.
“For the country to attain the desired status of the world’s largest producer of palm oil and its derivative product, palm kernel oil, it is necessary to mechanise its production, embrace high yielding varieties and support massive development of oil palm plantations across the country’s oil palm belt.
“Importation of the product is harming the local palm industry and depleting our foreign reserve. They are also threatening the viability of the industry into which many Nigerians have sunk huge sums of money in support of the government’s export promotion drive.
“Time has come for government to protect this industry by checking unnecessary imports. The way to go is to support the local palm industry as it has the capacity to meet the country’s requirement for palm products, especially palm kernel for the local soap industry,” he said.