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Interview with Alphonsus Inyang, The President of The National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria


1. What are the current trends or situations in Africa’s palm oil industry that you would like to share with us?

A little overview of the palm oil industry in Africa, in the 50s and 60s Africa produced and exported about 60% of the palm oil globally. Whereas right now we are producing just a little over about 4 million a year. Nigeria in particular is the fifth largest producer in the world and currently importing 50% of what we consume. In terms of numbers that is about $500 million worth of importation into Nigeria, we have lost our place as a leader in the industry. We're playing at number five which is not good enough for my country, and the industry as I have chosen to play and I am a leader of the smallholders. The smallholders and members of my association produce about 80% of these leaving 20% for the big players. We expect to increase production in a very ambitious way.


We have a program which is 1 household with 20 palm trees, where we encourage households as units of production and prosperity to plant palm trees. This is not necessarily in the plantations, but in every available space they have. We should preserve the environmental integrity and protect the environment from gully erosion. As the palm trees act as windbreakers for the rural houses and very importantly, as a source of income to rural households. This will improve livelihood, increase nutrition, and put factors of production in the hands of these rural people which can help them to have something to take to market for their family economic prosperity.


Under this program, we have mills that will be installed in clusters that will offtake the fruits from these rural households for milling to be able to attend the 5% FFA that will be good for human consumption and the international market. We believe that in doing so, we will install a climate-smart planting and processing technology that will help the industry to grow and prosper as it is in Malaysia and other places. The target that we have currently is 250,000 hectares per year from 2023 which amounts to about 7.5 million households over the next four years. We believe this 1 house with 20 palm trees will also help the environment because the smallholders do not disturb the forest, The forest ecosystem and engendered species will not be disturbed as they will be planted in small quantities within the boundaries of their houses. This will empower them economically, as I’ve said earlier and we expect partners to assist us in achieving this. So, that is a trend right now in Africa.



2. Could you elaborate a little bit on NPPAN’s background?

NPPAN was registered in 1990 by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, and currently, we have a membership of about 271, 945. The association is the umbrella body of all players in the oil palm value chain. This is the umbrella association that caters to the interests of all. NPPAN has been a system for 33 years now. We have been involved in mobilizing, training capacity building, and training smallholder farmers. We have medium-level of farmers, processors and equipment fabricators, and researchers around the country.


We have our presence in all states of the federation board and the states that have a comparative advantage in oil palm production. We're working with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Nigerian Export Council, the Nigerian Raw Material Research and Development Council, and the other stakeholders to develop and incentivize investment in the oil palm sector in Nigeria. Our membership is almost 300,000 and we're also working with IDH of the Netherlands, SORIDARIDAT another NGO promoted by the government.


3. What is Africa’s potential market that you can foresee?

Africa is taking a larger size of the market. In the next 5 or 10 years, my association is planning to add a minimum of 250,000 per year. We look at this as a very ambitious program. We believe that in many other African countries, Cameroon, Ghana, and Congo are doing a lot. They are doing a lot to increase the number of hectares under cultivation. For Nigeria which is the largest in Africa up to around 50 new plantations will be developed within the next few years by big plantation owners and new investors.


We see Africa taking some percentage of the market share, we happen to be the continent that consumes palm oil as food. We consume a lot of palm oil in Africa. We believe that the trading of palm oil can be a very huge market within Africa. Currently, we are importing a lot from Southeast Asia and South America. We will supply within Africa more and that will be good business for Africa and the economy of the

farmers.



4. A little bit of advice to Africa’s industry players?

More attention and funding need to be given to oil palm in Africa as it is in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Colombia do. The oil palm here should be treated as an important part of the economy. Governments in Nigeria and Africa should take oil palm seriously. They should see how to develop clusters and invest in the supply of planting materials to smallholder farmers. This is for them to build mills and concession their mills to big players or those interested to run their mills.


Government should fight the adulteration of palm oil that makes it not to be good for health. This is because it doesn't portray a good image of Africa. Government should do all that as it will also help the smallholders to grow their rural economies, and household economies, and will lead to the general prosperity of the national economies of Africa.


Lastly, I want to appeal to the government of Nigeria in particular to establish a National Oil Palm Development Council a National Oil Palm Development Policy to regulate and guide the industry. Access to land and funds should be made easier for smallholder farmers also.



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