The Central Bank of Nigeria says it has committed about N30 billion to enhance Oil-palm production in the country.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, disclosed this in a meeting with some state Governors in Abuja on Thursday.
Emefiele explained that the fund was disbursed through deposit money banks to six oil palm companies to support their expansion programmes.
He said that the companies were PZ Wimar, Biase oil company ltd, Eyop, Okomu Oil company, Presco oil company and SIAT ltd adding that application for Ada Palm Imo State, was being expected.
He disclosed that about 40 applications from investors across the country for the cultivation of 126,694 hectares were being considered.
Emefiele noted that the annual demand for palm oil in the country stood at 2.5 million metric tons of which only 1.25million metric tons was produced locally leaving a gap of 1.25million metric tones per annum.
He said: “This gap is currently being met through imports.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria oil palm initiative is aimed at closing the gap and also positioning Nigeria to incrementally export oil palm products to neighboring African countries and beyond.
“Closing the identified gap would require bringing about 312,500 hectares under modern cultivation at an estimated yield of four metric tons per hectare.
“Our target is to ensure that a minimum of 1.4 million hectares of land is put under oil palm cultivation in three years.
“As a step in this direction, the bank had met with 14 State Governors who pledged to make available 100,000 hectares of land in each state.
“We currently have a total of 904,624 hectares which are available in the states for allocation and investors have been matched with the States of interest to process necessary documentation and titling requirement.
“The investors are to be funded from the bank’s intervention programme and some of the states are however slow in making the land available to these investors.”
According to him, NIFOR being the flagship oil palm research institute in Nigeria, is being rejuvenated in collaboration with the leading oil palm major companies to meet the seedling needs of investors in the sub-sector.
Meanwhile, the governor further said to meet the tomato needs of the country and domesticate production, he had held meetings with key Tomato Processing and Packaging Companies in June, July and August this year.
He said it was resolution of the apex bank to ensure that paste and puree smugglers were decisively dealt with using tools legally available to CBN in order to make local production competitive.
Emefiele said it was agreed that the bank should support their efforts in the acquisition of land in the states to establish tomato turn key projects in states with huge potential for production.
He disclosed that in Jigawa, Sonia Foods Ltd was allocated 2,380 hectares of land at Birniwa for its project.
He said the Bank was currently funding about 18,000 farmers under the Anchor Borrowers Programme to produce hybrid tomatoes for processing by Sonia foods Ltd in the State.