The Oil Palm Growers Association of Nigeria (OPGAN) has commended President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, for the current transformation of the oil palm sub-sector.
Igwe Hilary-Uche, the National President of OPGAN, conveyed the commendation in an interview with News men in Awka.
Hilary-Uche said that the association was particularly happy with Ogbe and the Minister of State for Agriculture, Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri, for sustaining the good programmes of Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, the immediate-past agriculture minister.
He said that members of the association were impressed with developments in agriculture.
“We are proud to state today that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, headed by chief Ogbe and Sen. Lokpobiri, has provided more than 80 per cent of the equipment we requested to enable us to overhaul oil palm cultivation in Nigeria.
“The equipment we asked for was complete set of medium oil palm mills, German-made motorised mechanised oil palm harvesters, 7 HP and 3HP water pump machines, oil palm nut crackers and separators.’’
Hilary-Uche noted that the ministry had also provided cassava, rice, maize processing machines, tractors and other equipment for farmers so as to boost farming activities across the country.
He also commended the role of the minister in opening windows for genuine farmers to access credit facilities which, he said, had scaled up agricultural activities.
“I must reveal that a lot of people across Nigeria are currently planting high yielding oil palm seedlings.
“ Once they start harvesting, Nigeria would take her rightful position in the league of oil palm producing nations,’’ he said.
Hilary-Uche, however, urged farmers to join agricultural associations or cooperative societies where the impact of prominent farmers who off-took produce from smaller farmers were better felt.
“I am glad to state that in my association today, farmers get financial support for production, while the off-takers good value for purchasing, processing and marketing the products,’’ he said.
He said that he was particularly impressed with the equal opportunities given to farmers in access to agricultural inputs and urged young Nigerians to embrace commercial agriculture.
Besides, the OPGAN chief commended Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, the Minister of Science and Technology, for donating improved oil palm seedlings to OPGAN through the Raw Material Research and Development Council.
Hilary-Uche, however, urged the government to supply sprouted nuts to oil palm farmers, resolve their disagreements with the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) and provide them with tricycles to facilitate their activities.