Senator representing Imo East, Onyewuchi Ezenwa Francis has urged the Federal Government to support the improvement of of palm oil production in Nigeria to meet the domestic needs of the market and also to increase exports.
Francis stated this in a motion titled “Urgent need to revive Palm Oil Industry in Nigeria”, on the floor of the Senate Tuesday after resuming from the Six Weeks recess they embark on.
He explained that before the oil boom in the mid 1970s, agriculture has been the main-stay of Nigeria economy, adding that Nigeria was the largest producer and exporter of palm oil in the global market.
He further disclosed that the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantity paved way for the gradual neglect of agriculture, adding that as a result of this neglect, palm oil production has fallen to a meagre 1.7 per cent which is inadequate for local consumption.
In his words: “investment in production and processing of palm oil is proven to be a veritable tool to move the economy from oil to non oil sectors as obtained in advanced countries.
“The neglect of palm oil produce in Nigeria brings to mind the fate suffered by other cash crops which has made it difficult for the country to achieve her set target of diversifying the economy from the current oil-reliant status”.
He worried that if Nigeria refuses to harness the full potentials of the oil palm industry as an economic opportunity, it will continue to fall behind other global economies.
He also said that several stakeholders and agricultural experts have identified the development of palm oil as one way the country could diversify the economy and generate foreign exchange for development.
He urged the Federal Government to accelerate its policies on diversification of economy and support palm oil production by reviving NIFOR.
The motion was seconded by Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe, minority leader of the Senate and Sen. Mpigi Barinda, representing Rivers South-East senetorial district.