The Nigerian Export Promotion Council, (NEPC), has sought the partnership of the Akwa Ibom State Government for the development of oil palm production for export.
Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, NEPC, Mr Olusegun Awolowo, said this at a one-day capacity building workshop on acceptable practices across the oil palm value chain on Thursday in Uyo.
Awolowo, who was represented by the Deputy Director and Trade Promotion Adviser, Mrs Pauline Ndulaka, said that the contribution of agriculture to the Gross Domestic Product plunged below 25 per cent in the first quarter of 2020.
He said that the coming years would see a turnaround if states adopted a One-State One-Product programme.
Awolowo said that Akwa Ibom had huge potential in the palm oil sector which is its comparative advantage over every other state in the South-South region endowed with the product.
He said that oil palm was maintaining a steady increase in the global market triggered by high demands over crude oil which was on the decline.
He said that there was a need to rejig the sector by engaging value chain players and stakeholders for the country to mass produce the product for export.
“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 fifth 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 said.
Awolowo commended President Muhammadu Buhari for releasing funds through the Central Bank of Nigeria for the expansion of the oil palm value chain to boost exports.
In his remarks, the Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Mr Ukpong Akpabio, said that the vision of the NEPC was in tandem with the state government policy on oil palm exportation.
Akpabio, represented by the Director of Commerce, Mr Aniefiok Idiong, said that the state had partnered investors through the Public Private Partnership to establish a palm oil processing mill and palm kernel processing in three different local government areas in the state.
He said that resulting from sharp practices in the marketplace, his ministry had sent a bill to the State Assembly and that when passed into law would check adulteration of palm oil produce. (NAN)