There is an important opportunity to increase the national production of palm oil in Nigeria to meet local demand. Nigeria is, at the moment, a net importer of palm oil. Some 80% of the palm oil production in Nigeria comes from dispersed smallholders who harvest semi-wild plants and use manual processing techniques. Several million smallholders are spread over an estimated area of approximately 2.1 million ha (83% of the production area).
Oil palm plantations or estates (sized ~500-10,000 ha) cover about 118,264 ha and make up only 5% of the palm oil production in Nigeria. The remaining 12% of production comes from government-led smallholder schemes and cooperatives, out-grower schemes, commercial smallholders, and medium-sized farms.
Some of the major constraints to sustainable agricultural production of different tree crops (including oil palm) for smallholders in Nigeria include:
- Limited access to enough high-quality inputs (especially planting material and fertilizer in the case of oil palm)
- Unreliable distribution (incl. poorly-timed delivery of inputs to farms) and agro-dealer network
- Unreliable systems for identifying farmers that need subsidized inputs (insufficient means testing)
- Low level of commercialization, access to information/knowledge and credit
- Tenure issues in long term land ownership/lease preventing effective farm investments and planning
Another key challenge is that the expansion of oil palm plantations is threatening tropical forest ecosystems and converting indigenous lands to oil palm production without consent of the local communities.
IDH is addressing these challenges through its landscape program in Edo State and Ondo State in Nigeria, deploying our approach to sustainable production linked to natural resources protection and social inclusion (PPI). This program is also part of the wider IDH-Solidaridad partnership on strengthening existing or new national initiatives aimed at enabling sustainable climate smart oil palm production by smallholders.
The program is currently in an inception phase and will move to implementation in 2020.