Nigeria is one of the top producers of oil palm in the world. This is due to the good climate suitable for oil palm production. The business is highly lucrative and capital intensive for large scale commercial farmers.
Apart from Nigeria there are many farmers of the palm. Other major producers are Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Colombia.
Top Oil Palm Farming Verities
To attain maximum yield a farmer needs to consider the type of oil palm produced. Characteristics of good variety are fast growing, disease resistance, good adaptability to climatic conditions.
Top verities include Pisifera, Dura and Tenera for bountiful harvest. Unlike some verities harvested by 45 months these ones are ready for harvest in 24 months. Other advantages include oil palm shoots in excess of 22 branches with eight up to 44kg.
Uses of oil Palm
Oil palm has good economic value because of its various applications. The oil palm is easily processed into palm oil, vegetable oil, palm kernel oil or used in cosmetic products. Other derivatives include fertilizer, soap making, firewood, candle.
- palm oil
- vegetable oil
- palm kernel oil
- cosmetic products
- soap making
Challenges include sourcing the kernels, acquiring fertile land, labor. Others are farm security, loss of stock, fire, weather conditions, infestation, pests or harvest.
- sourcing kernels
- fertile land
- cheap labor
- farm security
- loss of stock
- uncertain weather
Red oil is very durable will last several weeks without depreciation. Oil palm is in huge demand from millers, wholesalers and retailers. The finished product have good price in the open market
Land for oil palm farming
Buy or lease fertile land for the oil palm farm. Make sure the land has adequate organic matter is well drained PH level 5-7 soil type sandy/loamy soil.
Cost involves price of land, labor costs, sourcing sprouts, farm management and water resources. A farm land in remote area is infinitely cheaper than urban farmland.
Growing Oil Palm
The most important stage of oil palm production is the first stage. First purchase high quality seeds from research institutions or trusted farmers. Make sure the verity is hardy, fast growing, disease resistant produce high yield.
Grow seeds to seedling then transfer to nurseries and grow into plants. It takes 1 year for young plants to grow 13-15 green leaves then transplant to plantation. Plant before the commencement of rain this is to afford proper rooting of the young plant.
The trees grow 40 feet and it takes 4 years to produce fruit. Thereafter the tree are capable of living for 35 years. Oil palm branches weigh 22-25kg, fruits bright red/ orange when ripe and grow in dense bunches.
Processing the palm
The farmer might sell the produce to others to process or do it themselves. To process on your own you need to invest in milling equipment. However others go to established milling plants before onwards delivery to buyers.
Mature palm fruits are red in color each fruit bears 6 fruits. 10 hectares will produce 200 metric tons of palm kernel oil. While 10 hectares will produce 500 tons of red palm oil yearly.
Nigerians consume huge quantities of vegetable or red oil. They use the oil in many culinary food, stews and local dishes. Sell to wholesalers, retailers or directly to end market after processing the palm. Some farmers simply sell the produce to dealers who in turn process the palm.