The National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN) says the country will benefit a lot from Crude Palm oil (CPO) as a leading foreign exchange earner with its price now 500 dollars per tonne against 426 dollars of crude oil.
The association disclosed this in a statement signed by its National President, Mr Henry Olatujoye, in Ibadan.
NPPAN said “The current domestic market value of palm oil is about N400 per litre, while that of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise called petrol remains N145, just as diesel is N210 and kerosene is N250.
The association however decried lack of government incentives and programmes to further promote palm oil farming and production.
“Right now, there is no financial credit, technological support and other assistance from the government and its agencies for our members that have injected billions of US dollars into the industry.
“Whereas the cost of establishing a petroleum refinery is estimated at US$500 billion, while a mere N50 million can be used to set up a palm oil refinery that can be replicated across the oil palm belt of Nigeria.’’
NPPAN reiterated its readiness to collaborate with the Federal Government, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other government agencies to turn the industry around.
It also said its members were ready to meet with the presidency, National Assembly, CBN and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to provide statistics and documents on the comparative advantage of CPO over crude oil as a foreign earner.
“We are concerned that rather than ban the importation of palm oil into the country, ensure strict compliance and enforcement at the borders, the authorities preoccupies itself with sticking to only a commodity which is crude oil.
“This crude oil is shipped abroad to be refined and imported into Nigeria as finished good at criminal costs and processes fraught with gross abuse, fraud and other forms of sharp practices.
“This process smacks off lack of seriousness and any form of economic sense and wisdom, especially when Nigeria has got a huge comparative advantage over others on the commodity,’’ The association added.
It said that allowing illegal importation of CPO into Nigeria would only add to the nation’s already saturated unemployment market and boost employment in other countries.
“Unlike the price of crude oil which is subject to the vagaries of foreign political powers, forces and cartel, palm oil is subject to domestic control mechanism because of the potential of local refining, value addition and packaging before export.
“Price fluctuation in global crude oil market constantly threatens and actually imperils the Nigerian economy and subjects the lives of Nigerians to serious hardship, huge job losses and factory shutdown with severe social unrests and other dire consequences.
“Malaysia has a commodity board that ensures standard practice and protects its interest in the global market of palm oil. Nigeria can also set its own,’’ it said.
The body said that it had earlier expressed its total support for the CBN Governor, Dr Godwin Emefiele who emphatically said CPO held huge economic potential for the country as a leading foreign exchange earner if investors were fully mobilised.
“While appearing before Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions for his second term screening, the CBN governor had declared that the price of a tonne of palm oil is more than the price of a barrel of crude oil,’’ the association said.
It reminded the authorities that a few influential Nigerians were colluding with a few manufacturers to illegally import the commodity towards crippling local production.
“We demand again that government check the activities of those bad eggs sabotaging its efforts at the land borders with neighboring countries and apply the law against individuals, firms and manufacturers shortchanging the nation in that regard.
“It must create enabling environment by providing infrastructure that will guarantee the ease of doing business in the oil palm belt and march its word with pragmatism and action on assistance to the investors in a similar manner already extended to rice farmers,’’ says NPPAN.