Solidaridad Harps on Economic Diversification

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Dike Onwuamaeze

The Solidaridad West Africa (SWA) has said that the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the price of crude oil has made it imperative that Nigeria and private sector players should begin to invest in “the other oil,” which is oil palm.

According to the SWA’s Senior Climate Specialist for Africa, Dr. Samuel Ogallah, the private sector involvement was vital to the success of the revival of palm oil cultivation in Nigeria.

Ogallah said: “In the wake of Covid-19 pandemic that led to the collapse of the oil price that Nigeria depends on as its major income earner, it is high time for Nigeria to start to invest in the other oil, which is palm oil as a way to increase the contribution of the agriculture sector to the national GDP, reduce poverty and create jobs for the unemployed in the country.”

Ogallah statements were contained in a press release issued by the SWA’s Programme Officer for Communications, Outreach and Networking of SWA, Mr. Pita Ochai. According to the statement, SWA has trained and digitally profiled more than 18,500 smallholder oil palm farmers and millers in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Enugu and Kogi States of Nigeria within one year.

It noted that the training and digital profiling exercises that were carried out by SWA were facilitated by The Kingdom of the Netherlands, which funded the “National Initiative for Sustainable Climate-Smart Oil Palm Smallholders (NISCOPS),” to support the federal government’s effort to diversify the economy through the agriculture sector.

He said the SWA encouraged sustainable climate-smart palm oil production by building the capacity of smallholder farmers and local institutions to improve their performance and facilitate the development of mechanisms for sustainable landscapes that would halt deforestation.

Speaking in the same vein, the SWA’s Oil Palm Programme Manager, Nigeria, Mr. Kene Onukwube, said the NISCOPS intervention has added impetus to Nigeria’s march towards making the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreements a reality.

“Profiling of oil palm farmers and their farms has elevated Nigeria’s digital agriculture profile in two significant ways: it has enhanced the structural aggregation of oil palm farmers into organised farmer groups. It has also positioned them strategically for increased economic investments from the proposed institutional interventions by government, especially the NIRSAL and other key policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria as well as the private sector growth initiatives targeted at palm oil Small and Medium Enterprises.”

The training, according to the statement would support the federal government’s agricultural transformation policy agenda and enable state governments to encourage more farmers to embrace the oil palm intervention programme.

Ochai, said the digital profiling of smallholder farmers and farm mapping were continuous process in the lifespan of NISCOPS, which started in 2019 and would run till 2023.