Worried by the dwindling contribution of oil palm to the nation’s economy, the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, said his administration was set to sign a multilateral Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR), and private investors to add oil palm in the basket of export earning products.
Obaseki who was at NIFOR alongside some top government officials for an on-the-spot assessment of its activities, expressed hope that it was still possible for the country to bounce back to its place of pride in the production and exportation of oil palm.
He said his administration was ready to make the paradigm shift and go back to the old order through collaboration to boost oil palm production in the country.
During a tour of the institute located in Ovia North-East Local Government Area of the state on Tuesday, he expressed sadness that the country had over the years undermined a natural resource such as oil palm which has the potential to grow the Nigerian economy.
Obaseki said: “The country is yet to maximize the potential of this institute, we should go back to the drawing board and retrace our steps and fix that which we missed years ago. We will be travelling to Indonesia in a few weeks’ time to see how the country used oil palm to develop its economy; there are areas we have comparative and competitive advantage as a country, but there are certain things that we need to improve upon.”
He further said that the state would need to collaborate with the institute in sharing expertise with civil servants in the state and urged the country to use the God-given resources for the benefit of the country and future generations.
Earlier, the Acting Executive Director of the research institute, Dr. Napoleon Aisueni, said the institute has huge potential that could be tapped into, to boost oil palm production and make the business very profitable.
Aisueni said that the institute has the capacity to produce about 10 million sprouted oil palm seeds on an annual basis and was able to raise 9 million sprouted seeds for the Agricultural Transformation Agenda. He urged every state in the country to key into oil palm production to create employment for the teeming youths.