The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has called for the partnership of the Akwa Ibom state government with the view to developing oil palm in the state for export.
Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of NEPC, Mr Olusegun Awolowo disclosed this during a one-day capacity building workshop on acceptable practices across the value chain of oil palm for enhanced produce yield and quality improvement for export, organised by NEPC Abuja headquarters in Uyo, Thursday.
The council boss observed that the state has huge potentials in palm oil which has comparative advantage over other states in the South-south region endowed with the product.
Awolowo said as oil palm was maintaining a steady increase in the global market, triggered by high demands over crude oil, which is on the decline, there was need to rejig the sector by engaging value chain players and stakeholders for the country to mass produce the product for export.
Awolowo, represented by the Deputy Director and Trade Promotion Adviser, Mrs Pauline Ndulaka ,said although the contribution of agriculture to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had plunged below 25% in the first quarter of 2020, the coming years would see a turnaround if states adopt One-State One-Product programme.
“Without gainsaying, there has been a tremendous increase in the global demands for oil palm from 1.2 million metric tonnes in 1964 to over 73.3 million metric tonnes in 2018.
“Regrettably, Nigeria that used to be a leading producing country in the 1960s is presently ranking 5th in production due to protracted neglect by the government.
“It is important therefore to engage the value chain players from time to time to address these challenges so that we can grow the export of this product in Nigeria. In this regard and as one of the leading producers, we expect Akwa Ibom state to play a leading role in the coming years,” he added.
Awolowo commended President Muhammadu Buhari for releasing funds through CBN for the expansion of the oil palm value chain to boost exports.
In a remark, the state Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Mr Ukpong Akpabio said the vision of NEPC was in tandem with the state government policy on oil palm exportation.
Akpabio, represented by the Director of Commerce, Mr Aniefiok Idiong, said the state had partnered with investors through the public private partnership initiative to establish palm oil and palm kernel processing mills in three different LGs in the state.
He hinted that resulting from sharp practices in the market place, his ministry had sent a bill to the state assembly and that when passed into law would checkmate adulteration of palm oil produce.
On her part, the state Commissioner of Agriculture, Dr Glory Edet, represented by Director of Agriculture, Mr Aniefon Isong, commended NEPC for engaging the value chain players and stakeholders to deliberate on the way forward in oil palm production for export.