Stakeholders at the just ended International Palm Produce Conference (IPPC) have urged the Federal Government to maintain the 35 percent duty on imported crude palm oil.
They also called for the establishment of special fund for Oil Palm Development to be managed by Bank of Agriculture (BoA), Bank of Industry (BoI), or NIRSAL that will offer five to six percent interest rate to effectively assist entrepreneurs in the industry.
In a communiqué, the stakeholders noted that the oil palm industry has suffered neglect over the years due to over dependence on crude oil revenue, inadequate improved planting materials and low investment in large commercial farms.
They also askedgovernment to sustain the ban on importation of vegetable oil in Nigeria in order to improve the production, processing and marketing of oil palm oil along the entire value chain.
The participants urged government to sustain the initiatives in the Transformation Agenda of the present administration, especially the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), National Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP), and the Nigerian Agric-Business and Agro-Industry Development Initiative (NAADI).
Among other decision reached at the conference were as follows: Farmers and farmer groups in the palm oil sub sector should be encouraged to be properly registered as Co-operative groups to enable them benefit from the on-going NIRSAL credit facility of the Federal Government.
The conference appealed to banks to de-emphasize the requirement for collaterals from farmers seeking loans from them since the farmlands and the farmers themselves are enough collateral.
* Participants emphasized the need to adequately fund NIFOR and strengthen its seed production capacity to enable it continue to produce and deliver improved Tenera Sprouted nuts/seedlings to farmers.
* Need for adequate advocacy/sensitization by NAFDAC and other regulatory institutions to discourage adulteration of crude palm oil (CPO) by bulk marketers and encourage proper branding and labeling of palm products to enhance traceability.
* Need for entrepreneurs to invest in utilisation of 90 percent waste (bio-mass) from the oil palm industry to generate wealth.
*The conference advocated the use of modern processing equipment for processing premium Crude Palm Oil (CPO) and other derivatives.
*Encouragement for the development of oil palm plantations to remedy deforestation and ensure that entrepreneurs fulfill their social responsibilities to the host communities.
*Farmers were implored to explore the various funding windows of Government for Agricultural Development e. g. NIRSAL domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
*The National Plant Quarantine Service (NPQS) should intensify efforts to check importation of diseased seeds/seedlings into the country to forestall introduction of fusarium wilt disease.
*Need to train Produce Officers and establish quality control laboratories across oil palm producing states as well as discourage transportation of palm produce at nights.