The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, has tasked stakeholders in the oil palm sub-sector with repositioning Nigeria in her rightful position of exporting to other nations.
Abubakar stated this when he received a delegation of stakeholders of the proposed Nigeria Oil Palm Summit led by its convener Mr. Fatai Afolabi in his office in Abuja recently.
Abubakar noted that in the early ‘60s Nigeria’s agriculture sector was the major source of revenue but, today, the country is struggling to be a big agricultural nation. He insisted that it was not too late for Nigeria to reposition herself.
He recalled that Malaysia came to Nigeria some years back, got oil palm seedlings and became the leading producer of oil palm in the world while Nigeria is ranked 5th, which is worrisome, he said.
He stated that rice, cassava and yam are top priorities in the agricultural sector and urged the stakeholders to use the summit to think, plan and develop a policy that would put Nigeria back on track.
The minister cautioned that “not just proposing to have a summit but a lot of thinking and planning must be carried out to avoid past mistakes”, pledging to work with any organization to achieve the economic diversification policy of the Present Administration.
He commended the stakeholders for their efforts towards repositioning Nigeria’s oil palm and assured that the ministry would collaborate and give necessary assistance to ensure that the oil palm sub-sector strives.
In his remarks, the convener of the proposed summit, Mr. Fatai Afolabi said that oil palm was one of the most important tree crops in the country. He pointed out that the importance of oil palm in Nigeria cannot be over-emphasised and added that it was a means of livelihood, fuel and raw materials for industries.
He revealed that the summit would be a forum for stakeholders and relevant organisations, both government and non-governmental, to deliberate, synergise and come up with measures to move the industry to its peak.
He assured that the summit would also enable stakeholders to identify business models as well as opportunities for international partners.
In a related development, the minister received the delegation of Friesland Campina Wamco led by the executive director, corporate affairs, Mrs. Ore Famurewa.
A statement by the ministry’s director of information, signed by Mohammed Abdullahi Gana, said Famurewa stated, the company would continue to partner with the ministry to improve the quality of locally produced milk, capacity-training for smallholder dairy farmers in the modern technologies on how to boost production and increase their earnings.
She, therefore, solicited the minister’s assistance in securing about 200 – 300 hectares of land in Abuja for the organisation’s future projects.