The Senate, on Tuesday urged the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency place a ban on the importation of palm oil/ palm kernel and inject needed funds through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to aid the production of this cash crop.
The upper legislative chamber as well urged the private sector to partner state governments to embark on revolutionary transformation of palm oil production and creation of allied industries through backward integration.
The Senate resolution followed the adoption of motion moved by Senator Francis Alimikhena(Edo North) that there is an urgent need to halt the importation of palm oil and its allied products to protect the palm oil industry in Nigeria.
Seconding the motion, Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan said if the Federal Government is sincere .about diversifying the nation’s economy, it need to speedily revive the oil palm industry.
He observed that there are very few palm oil plantations in the country while giving kudos to states in the South- East and South-South geopolitical zones.
Sen. Lawan urged his colleagues in the Senate to provide legislative muscle to the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) to further develop research into high yield of palm fruits in the country.
Senator Adamu Aliero, (Kebbi Central) said it is a sad story that Malaysia came to take palm fruits samples from Nigeria 20 years ago but now became the leading exporter of palm oil from which Nigeria import the product.
While he said that agriculture is key to economic development and employment generation, he berated past administrations in the country for neglecting agriculture.
Senator Theodore Orji (Abia) while supporting the motion said palm oil producers in Nigeria are bring short- changed and discouraged by importation of the product.
Senator Uchendu (Rivers) who said it is a shame that Nigeria still talk about palm importation in 2018, charged each state in the South- East and South- South States to develop 10,000 hectares of palm oil plantation.
Senator Musa Rabiu Kwakwanso (Kano) said other agricultural products such as groundnut and cotton should be developed because they have the potentials to grow the economy and therefore should be encouraged.
In his motion, Sen. Alimikhena said that the unbridled importation of palm oil/ kernel and allied palm products into Nigeria threatens the Federal Government’s campaign for the diversification of the economy through increased agricultural production and exports.
He noted that in 2017, Nigeria has imported 450,000 tons of palm oil to the tune of N116.3 billion. He said ” it is worrisome that Nigeria was the world leading producer of palm oil at independence but unfortunately, Indonesia and Malaysia have overtaken Nigeria and we now import palm oil”.
He was aware that developing the oil palm industry is one of the ways that Nigeria can reduce poverty and create mass employment and therefore said importation of the product is harming the local palm industry and depleting our foreign reserve.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu who presided acceded to the prayers of his colleagues by calling for banning of importation of the product.