The need for the immediate reactivation of Community Plantation Development Scheme (CPDS) by the Akwa Ibom government to take care of all tree crops in the state has been re-echoed.
The president, Oil Palm Plantation Owners Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society Limited, Mr Udeme Bassey, made the call in Uyo during an oil palm seeds workshop organized to facilitate linkage between Nursery Operators, Farmers and other Stakeholders in the state.
Bassey explained that the call for the reactivation of Community Plantation Development Scheme (CPDS) by the state government was necessary for the officials to assist oil palm farmers and plantation owners to access improved varieties of oil palm seedlings for cultivation in order to replace the old wild oil palm (Dura) in the state.
He said continuous dormancy of the department was counterproductive to the growth and development of all tree crops in the state, especially the cultivation of improved oil palm seedlings "Tenera specie that could be sourced from the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) for easy access to farmers.
He noted with regret that the old wild oil palm also known as "Dura are not yielding high productivity, calling for the full reactivation of the tree crops department in the Ministry of Agriculture to help farmers access good and improved oil palm seedlings for cultivation in the state.
He said since palm oil accounted for an annual average of 70 percent of the Nigerian oil market with an estimated annual demand of 2 million metric tonnes, it was necessary for all stakeholders to close ranks with the state government for increased production to narrow the wide gap of about 1.1 million tonnes deficit in the country.
Bassey explained that 80 percent of the Niger Delta region, under oil palm cultivation, was occupied by low oil producing wild groove, dura, variety which has resulted in low productivity despite increased demand for local produced palm oil.
He noted that the workshop's objectives were to increase awareness of availability, source and benefits of improved tenera seedlings among smallholder farmers; share the cost and benefit analysis of planting for small holder farmers; stimulating investment in nursery and distribution channels for improved oil palm seeds.
Mr Ibanga Akpan, while delivering a lecture on the benefit and cost of planting improved seeds and using best management practices in the Niger Delta, advised farmers to make use of large hectares of land for the cultivation of tenera species of oil palm seedlings for a guaranteed high yields.
Akpan said improved oil palm, tenera, seedlings acquired from NIFOR would produce large quantity of oil after processing, while that specie of oil palm starts yielding fruits within two to four years after cultivation with best management practices.
He called for the sitting of improved oil palm nursery in a good and conducive environment to encourage good sprouting for transplanting on acidic and fertile soil between 10 to 16 months.
Speaking on the performance and benefits of different oil palm seedlings, Sir Patrick Udofia, advised farmers to always buy and obtain receipts from the management of NIFOR for them to ensure higher productivity from their plantations, advising against the importation of oil palm seedlings from either Malaysia or Indonesia for cultivation since the weather condition in the state was not the same.
Udofia advised Akwa Ibom oil palm farmers to always develop their plantations with seedlings from NIFOR to ensure good performance and high yields in view of the fact that the seedlings were produced to grow well with the climatic condition of the state.