A former President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) has urged the Federal Government to resuscitate palm oil industry to diversify the economy.
Dr Simon Okolo told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Aba, Abia, that the government efforts to improve the economy would be a mirage if the oil palm industry was ignored.
According to him, the palm oil industry is a big component of the agricultural sector with great potentialities for revenue and job creation.
He said that the decay in the palm oil industry had adversely affected the economy of the country, adding that the industry had the potential for rapid development of small and medium enterprises.
``To allow this potential industry to die through systematic waivers of government grant to businessmen to import palm oil products will deny the country the incredible potential assets the industry represents.
``Apart from its conventional use in food processing, it is the raw material to a range of industry needs, especially those involved in pomade, detergents and confectionery, fat or margarine,’’ he said.
He urged the government to realise that the development funds it sought through diversification of the Nigerian economy could adequately be met through the resuscitation of the palm oil industry.
According to him, the government can do this by intensifying research inton the crop to develop high yield varieties that will maximise output and improve efficiency.
Okolo said that the government could discourage the current massive rural-urban migration and reduce crime in the cities if it revived the industry.
``Indonesia and Malaysia, which control nearly 90 per cent of world palm oil export today, if we can remember, took their seedling from Nigeria,’’ he said.
He urged the government to promote public-private joint ventures as well as foreign direct investments with tax breaks and other financial incentives to encourage the production of the crop.