Nigeria – In Nigeria, the government has launched a drive to revive the country’s once-thriving palm oil business. It is one of the finest sectors to diversify away from petroleum and help create jobs. However, it becomes a problem when loans for small-scale producers go into the pockets of bigger factory owners.
Nigeria is the world’s fifth-largest producer of palm and yet it imports nearly half of the two million tons consumed annually in the country, further depleting foreign exchange reserves already depleted by falling oil prices.
Micah Ojo, who farms one of the small plantations mentions that he crosses several oil palms lines by the roads but many mills have been abandoned. This absence does not benefit him from the loans the government provides through the central bank to large farms and investors.
He pleads to the central bank loans that this is a sector that needs a lot of capital, they need the government to come and help them. In Edo State, the palm and rubber trees of the Okumu Oil Palm Company cover more than 33,000 hectares of land, and yet there is no systematic management to generate employment and profit from that business on a massive scale.
It was highlighted that small-scale farmers are excluded from central bank financing even though they account for 70 percent of production. To this, a representative of the Nigerian Plantation Owners Forum mentions that banks will only lend to large, established producers with significant sources of income. These companies are, for the most part, multinationals. The small producers that the programs are supposed to target do not have access to them,” he laments.
The small producers request the state-run Nigerian Institute of Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) to help them improve seedlings and guide them on fighting for pests and diseases. Such control and cautious measures will help them to become more competitive and profitable.