Desperate to achieve a diversification of their mono oil economy, the Akwa Ibom state government has placed emphasis on Agriculture going forward.
One of the strategic crops designed to be developed to achieve optimum yield is palm oil crops. To achieve this oil palm farmers have been urged to increase their yields through improved production methods.
Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Informationand Strategy, Comrade Ini Ememobong gave the charge early on Thursday,September 17, in Ikot Ekpene during the 3rd Oil Palm Summit held at the IkotEkpene Village Council Hall.
Comrade Ini Ememobongwho was presenting a paper on “The Role of Small Scale Oil Palm Farmers inNigeria Economy”, noted that the importance of oil palm as a major product ofagriculture cannot be overemphasized and called on oil palm farmers to step uptheir yields by adapting good production methods.
Represented by the Director of Strategy in the ministry, Elder Joseph Etem, he identified the major economic importance of oil palm to include: being a high yielding source of edible and industrial oils, strong producer of Vitamin A, and a good source of treatment balm, amongst others.
He observed that the derivable benefits of oil palm are more sustainable than other vegetable oil as a large percentage of it is used in food production and industrial materials.
He advised that oil palm farmers should ensurethe sustainability of a value chain through the availability of the product fordomestic and other uses.
He also assured that the state government,with its priority in agriculture, will continue to synergise with oil palmfarmers to harness the potentials in oil palm to boost its economicdiversification.
In his keynote address, the Executive Director, Directorate of Agricultural Investment, Akwa Ibom Investment Corporation(AKICORP), Pastor Umo Eno, represented by the Head of Department, Agricultural Investment, Mr. Ofonmbuk Nelson, decried the situation where oil palm was abandoned in pursuit of crude oil which plundered Nigeria into a mono-economy.
He mentioned that oil palm was among the firstcommodities traded in Nigeria for hard currency and thanked the state Governor,Mr. Udom Emmanuel whom he said attaches premium on oil palm development withover 100 oil palm farmers already profiled and recommended for CBN assistancein oil palm development initiative.
Earlier, the Presidentof Oil palm Plantation owners Multipurpose cooperative Society, Mr. UdemeBassey Edet, explained that the event was a yearly programme with the aim ofpromoting comparative advantage among oil palm farmers.
With the year 2020 theme, as, “Cluster Farming as poverty Alleviation Strategy” Mr. Udeme Bassey said, farmers needed teamwork to achieve their set goals of sustainability in line with Governor Emmanuel’s drive for Agro-industries in his Completion Agenda.
He thanked the state government for the donation of 500 oil palm seedlings to the farmer through the state Ministry of Agriculture last year and appealed for more farm inputs, with the hope that the community plantation development scheme would be reactivated for tree crops in Akwa Ibom.
In his opening remarks, the chairman of theoccasion, Obong Akpan Tom Akpaoko called for more collaboration that will enhanceimplementation for higher yields by Akwa Ibom oil palm farmers.
He encouraged participants to work towardsensuring that oil palm is returned as one of the very essential commodities toboost diversification of the economy from crude oil dependency.