The Taraba Oil Mills’ main plantation and factory, located in Kurmi local government area, will soon be the hub of palm oil production in Taraba state. The moribund oil factory has been rebuilt and refurbished with bigger workshops for it to handle all the palm fruits that the other government plantations and out-growers can deliver to it for production. The transformed oil mills will be producing about 100 million liters of palm oil a week translating into 520 million liters per annum when in full swing.
Government’s plan for Kurmi is to be able to produce enough palm oil for local and international consumption and to, specifically, challenge Malaysia at the international palm oil market. About 50 years ago, the Asian country had come to Nigeria to take palm tree seedlings. Today they are the undisputed leader in palm oil production globally while Nigeria’s production capacity continues to decline. Iliya Ezekiel, the managing director of Taraba Investment and Properties Ltd, wants to change that saying he intends to cover Kurmi, other plantations and parts of Taraba with palm trees.
Taraba state government has four other plantations in Gashaka, Abong, Bisaula and Takum and they will all serve the Kurmi oil mill. For now about 4000 palms tree grow in the Kurmi plantation. Across the state though, over one million palm trees are in full blossom. In addition, there are plans to establish a nursery that will serve as feeder for farmers especially the out-growers in Kurmi and other areas. The Nigerian Institute of Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) in Benin-City, Edo state is collaborating with the company in the production of enhanced palm seedlings to give farmers.
The mill, will no doubt, produce enough palm oil to meet local consumption. At its test run, the mill is expected to produce 504 kegs of five liters each before increasing production to its full capacity. With one million palms trees from government plantations and out-growers supplying the fruits needed meeting installed capacity will be easy. Government is encouraging people to plant palms trees in their homes and vacant land as a means of getting a steady supply of palm fruits. The mill will also provide raw materials for other secondary products like palm cake, basket brooms and local soap made from palm tree.
Government’s plan to localize oil production at Kurmi is strategic. Aside the conducive weather, the land there is fertile and grows other cash crops like cocoa, coffee, wheat and tea. Government has over 500,000 hectares of land in Kurmi and is planning to do low land tea and coffee production in the near future. It is also planning on establishing a cocoa nursery and will start a pilot scheme for wheat production. But for now palm oil is the focus.
Certainly there will soon be an upsurge in economic activities in Kurmi Local Government Area because of the resurrection of the Taraba Oil Mills Ltd. Once the mills come into full production, employment opportunities will increase especially for women who will get 60 percent of the jobs available at the mill. The Taraba Oil Mills in Kurmi is a good example of what can be achieved if political will meets commitment to service.
– Mijinyawa is the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Taraba State.