The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), as the primary agency overseeing non-oil exports, is collaborating with key stakeholders in the oil palm industry to revive Nigeria’s historic status as a net exporter of the product.
According to businessday.ng, Nonye Ayeni, the executive director/chief executive officer, NEPC, stated this in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, during a technical session on addressing non-compliance with food safety standards in palm oil production in Abia State, organised by the Abuja headquarters of the council.
Ayeni noted that palm oil, a major agricultural product in Abia State, is an important commodity used globally in a wide range of products and is also regarded as the world’s most popular edible vegetable oil with a global market worth over $45 billion.
The NEPC boss, represented at the forum, by Fred-Ilogben Macpherson, deputy director, the product department of NEPC, explained that Nigeria exported 64.14 metric tonnes of palm oil in 2021, valued at $44,689.30, while in 2022, it exported 350.72 metric tonnes valued at $828, 323.32.
He further noted that as of September 2023, the country exported 96.44 metric tonnes of the commodity, valued at $52,724.98. She, however, noted that there have been stricter restrictions on palm oil from Nigeria, in recent times, due to issues arising from non-compliance with food standards and urged stakeholders in the sector to strive towards meeting the world’s approved standards to be competitive in the international market.
Ayeni said that the council in its drive to promote economic diversification, has been developing and implementing strategies to achieve the desired result, even now with serious emphasis on standards. “As the need for quality produce exports increases, it is imperative to maintain quality standards of products exported to the international market,” she stated.
Udeme Bassey Edet, of Sustainable Smallholders Oil Palm Services Company Limited, a resource person at the forum, observed that Nigeria can relaunch the palm oil business, by ensuring that best management practices are applied in palm plantations to increase yield. He urged farmers to use the right palm seedlings, especially the “Tenerra” and fertiliser (12-12 17 +2), which according to him, is the best fertiliser for oil palm plantation.