The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) in collaboration with the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) on Thursday trained oil palm farmers on pest and soil fertility management in Edo.
The News Agency of Nigeria NAN reports that the ministry also distributed 200 oil palm fruit harvesting chisels and 1000 litres of organic path-away fertiliser to the farmers during the training.
Alhaji Muhammed Abubakar, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, declared the two days capacity-building opened in NIFOR Benin.
Abubakar said that oil palm value chain was among commodity value chains being promoted by the ministry, hence the need to build the capacity of stakeholders in the sector
Represented by the Deputy Director of the ministry, Mr Chukwuemeka Ukattah, Abubakar said that the training was aimed at ensuring that Nigeria became the leading producer of oil palm.
“Some of the achievement recorded by the ministry in its bid to improve the oil palm value chain include the production of 180,000 improved tenera sprouted nuts by NIFOR.
“This is to be distributed to oil palm farmers in the 27 oil palm producing states and it has established two equipped oil palm processing centres for the production of crude palm oil.
“Other farm inputs procured to be distributed to farmers are palm nut cracker and separator, oil palm chisels and motorised harvesters, among others,” he said.
Also speaking, the State Director, Edo FMARD office, Mr Wellington Omoragbon, said that the ministry had organised series of capacity building and empowerment programmes along the value chains of yam, rice, cassava, potato and cashew, among others.
Omoragbon commended the management of FMARD, especially the Permanent Secretary, Dr Ernest Umakhihe, for the workshop and empowerment programmes in Edo
He said that the ministry had also provided agricultural infrastructure support services to farming communities in Edo in form of feeder roads, rural water supply, solar street lights which NIFOR benefited from recently.
In his welcome address, Dr Celestine Ikuenobe, the Executive Director of the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research, urged the farmers to take advantage of the workshop to earn better income.
Ikuenobe, represented by a director, Dr Isona Gold, said that NIFOR was committed to repositioning the oil palm sector to be a very significant sector of the economy, providing employment and income.
The coordinator of training and Head of Extension Services Department, NIFOR, Dr Solomon Olusegun said that NIFOR would continue to improve the oil palm sector through training for all stakeholders in the sector.
Olusegun explained that participants from 24 states attended the training and urged them to use the opportunity to ask questions about oil palm production, pest control and soil management.
Mr Joe Onyiuke, the National President Oil Palm Growers Association of Nigeria (OPGAN), thanked the federal government for its efforts at reviving the oil palm sector in Nigeria through capacity- building and intervention funds.
Onyiuke said “the training is very important because it will teach farmers how to control pest and manage plantations to get improved harvest.
“We have come to learn from the experts. There a lot of things that people do not know about oil palm and its derivatives”.
At the end of the training, beneficiaries are expected to go back and train other farmers in their communities. (NAN)