Nigeria’s $600 Million Palm Oil Import Bill: Call For Agricultural Investment

Nigeria's $600 Million Palm Oil Import Bill: Call For Agricultural Investment
Nigeria's $600 Million Palm Oil Import Bill: Call For Agricultural Investment

Nigeria, once a global leader in palm oil production, is now incurring substantial costs amounting to $600 million annually for the importation of palm oil, as reported by the National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN). Alphonsus Inyang, the national president of NPPAN, expressed concern over these hefty expenditures in a conversation with NAN in Abuja, emphasizing the detrimental impact on the nation’s economic development.

Inyang remarked, “Such funds could have been invested in the agricultural sector, specifically the palm oil sub-sector, if previous governments had paid the required attention to it.” This comment reflects the dramatic shift from Nigeria’s past status of self-sufficiency in palm oil production to its current heavy reliance on imports to meet domestic demand.

Reflecting on Nigeria’s storied history in the palm oil industry, NPPAN’s national leader noted that in the 1960s, the nation once commanded over 60% of the global palm oil market. However, the present scenario paints a starkly different picture, with more than half of Nigeria’s consumed palm oil being sourced externally.

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Presently, Nigeria ranks fifth in global palm oil production, trailing behind leaders like Indonesia and Malaysia. Inyang warned that without considerable investment, Nigeria risks falling further behind, even to smaller nations currently investing in palm oil production.

He said, “Indonesia occupies the first position, producing 50 million metric tonnes, Malaysia is second with 19 million metric tonnes, Thailand produces 3.28 million, and Colombia 1.9 million metric tonnes.”

Citing neglect by successive governments as the core challenge, he pointed out that Nigeria comprises merely 1.5% or 1.4 million metric tonnes of the world’s total palm oil output according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This decline from the leading global producer has also positioned Nigeria as the largest consumer of palm oil in Africa, with an annual consumption of about three million metric tonnes and a production shortfall of over 1.6 million metric tonnes.

In response to this significant deficit, Inyang urged the federal ministry of agriculture and food security to provide support to NPPAN members, particularly through the distribution of seedlings to cultivate 250,000 hectares per year. This call to action represents a pressing need for strategic focus and investment in the agricultural sector to revive Nigeria’s palm oil industry, reduce dependency on imports, and harness the sector’s potential as a driver of national economic growth.

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