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The study determined the economics of oil palm seedlings production in Edo South Senatorial district, Edo State. The specific objective was to examine the socio-economic characteristics of the oil palm seedlings producers, identify the methods adopted in raising oil palm seedlings in the study area, to estimate this cost and returns in oil palms production and access it’s profitability and viability, identify the factors affecting the level of income generated by producers and the likely problems of oil palm seedlings production. The study covered ninety (120) randomly selected oil palm producers from nine villages in the study area. The results showed that the production of oil palm seedling had a high returns. The cost of selling price per seedling was N272.378, gross margin had N120.621 and Net profit had N75.932. The following was found to be major constraint, inadequate finance, time consumption, irregular supply of fresh fruit bunches, and high transportation cost. Recommendations were made based on the identified problems facing the oil palm seedling producers and it includes provision of planting material as at when due, encouraging farmers to pull their resources together, for farming themselves into cooperative societies.
1.1 Background to The Study
The African Oil Palm, Elaeis guineensi jacq (Jacquin, 1963), is placed in the Arecaceae family which contains about 225 genera with over 2600 species along with coconut and date palms cultivars. There are 3 naturally occurring forms of the oil palm fruit, termed dura, tenera and pisifera. The selection of dura female and pisifera male parents is carried out to obtain tenera offspring that produce large oil yield (Breure et al, 1986, Breure, 2003). The African oil palm is native to tropical Africa, from Sierra Leone in the West through the Democratic Republic of Congo in the East, it was domesticated in its native range, probably in Nigeria, and moved throughout tropical Africa by humans who practiced shifting agriculture at least 5,000 years ago (Hartley, 1988). European explorers discovered the palm in the late 1400’s, and distributed it throughout the world during the slave trade period (Corner, 1966). In the early 1800’s, the slave trade ended but British began trading with West Africans in Ivory, lumber and palm oil. The oil palm was introduced to the Americans hundred years ago, where it became naturalized and associated with slave plantations, but did not become an industry of its own until the 1960s (Lereka, 1998). The first plantations were established on Sumatra in 1911, and in 1917 in Malaysia (Raymond, 1961).
Oil plantations were established in tropical America and West Africa about this time, and in 2003, palm oil production equaled that of soybean, which had been the number one oil crop for many years. Elaeis guineeasis is characterized by its vertical trunk and feathery nature of its leaves every year 20 – 25 new leaves called “frond” develop in continuous whorle at the apex of the trunk (Devendra, 1984). The fruit bunches develop between the trunk and the base on the new fronds and the plant can reach 60 – 80ft in height in nature, but is rarely more than 20 or 30ft in cultivation. Although new plantation starts to bear fruit at 3 years, generally, the first commercial crop require between five and six years and continuous to produce for 25 – 30 years, or until the palm grow too high to be harvested. Once a plantation reaches full production, a new inflorescence is produced every 15 days. It weights between 15 and 20kg and can conking up to 1500 individual palm fruit of between 8 and 10 grams each (Chavaliar, 1937). The individual fruits consist of the following four parts, a pericarp, a thin outer skin which upon ripening changes from brown to red or orange, a mesocarp, a large of fibrous material which surrounds the nut, an endocarp or hard inner shell (nut) to protect the seed or kernel and the seed (kernel) (Aighologa, 1995). The female inflorescence contains 200 – 300 fruits, and fruit set is 50 – 70% fruit riped about 5 – 6 months after pollination (Ergo, 1977). Vegetable and edible oil producer of Nigeria (VEOPAN) claims that, it provided job opportunities for not less than 1.8 million farmer family involved in this production of oil seeds and related crops. Nigeria with a National 1.3 million tones of palm oil and a population. Of over 140 million that means each family produces less than 700kg per year, i.e. an average of less than 2kg/day (Eshalomi, 2008). Last year, the vegetable oil sub-sector of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria reported that the market has been very unstable because of high cost of input, excessive smuggling of vegetable oil and faking. Recently, the group lamented the shortage of palm oil plantation production which is the major raw material for vegetable oil production because it condemned the Federal Government of Nigeria for signing a contract to supply palm oil to Ghana, whose local demand has not been met (Eshlomi, 2008). In Edo State, effort has been made to encourage the establishment of oil palm plantation. These has yielded some positive result such as establishment of multinational oil palm plantation companies, whose production has follow Presco Industry Limited 22,000 tonnes/year and an indigenous oil palm farm Nosakeri Farm (Vanguard, 2007).
1.2 Statement Of Problem
The production of oil palm seedling is currently the only source of planting materials for oil palm production in Edo State senatorial district. The entire seedling produced in the world is of the tenera type obtained from fertilizing dura tree with pollen form pisifera tree (Griseb, 2007). The oil palm seedling production is handled directly by organizations such as the Ministry of Agriculture and NIFOR (Wikipedia, 2008). However, it is observe that a number of business oriented persons are not investing in oil palm seedlings production. What would be responsible for this? The equation therefore is whether investment in oil palm seedling production is not profitable or there are some other problems that are preventing investment in oil palm seedling production. It is necessary to carry out an economic analysis to determine the profitability and viability of oil palm seedling production in Edo South Senatorial district.
1.3 Objective Of The Study
The broad objective of the study is the economic analysis of oil palm seedlings production in Edo South senatorial district. The specific objectives are:
i. To examine the soicio-economic characteristics of the producers of oil palm seedlings in the study area.
ii determine factors affecting the resource use efficiency by oil palm farmers in the area;
iv determine the costs and returns of oil palm seedling production;
v identify and describe the constraints of oil palm production.
The following null hypotheses will be tested:
1. The resources are not efficiently being utilized.
2. Socio-economic factors do not influence resource use efficiency.
1.5 Significance of the Study
The widespread acceptance of palm oil as cooking oil and industrial oil means higher demand for the product than other oils. Besides, the presence of carotenoid in palm oil makes it very valuable. Carotene is a precursor for vitamin A, which is very vital for remedy of night blindness (NRDC, 2003). Palm oil is used in the homes as cooking oil. In industries, it is used for the manufacture of margarine, soap, lubricating oils and candles. Palm kernel oil is used as skin lotion or as laxative, when mixed with kerosene, it is used as a wood polish. After extracting the oil, the residue, palm kernel cake form an excellent animal feed. Palm wine obtained by tapping the tree is used as a very good source of alcoholic drink in many social gatherings in Nigeria. Both the oil and wine obtained from oil palm have medicinal value.
Oil palm is a very valuable economic tree crop in Nigeria. It provided large quantity of palm oil and palm kernels, which in the 1960s accounted for 43 percent of the world production. Today, it only accounts for 7 percent of total global output, (WRM’s bulletin, 2001).
1.6 Limitations of the Study
The study has been limited by the fact that: -
(a) there was a dearth of information due to lack of adequate record keeping. This gives room for some data to be estimated.
(b) where current literatures on oil palm exist or are available, they are scanty, particularly publication on oil palm in Nigeria.
(c) there was some difficulty in getting accurate information from the farmers because some believe that such will expose the secret of their business.
(d) there was lack of adequate financial support, the high cost of transport fare coupled with other financial problems, imposed a severe limitation on the extent of travels in order to obtain further information. Friends and other well-wishers who supported in this case had been fully acknowledged.
(e) the attitude of some of the respondents who withheld information and would even throw away questionnaire after having collected it. This actually brought a set back. With serious prayers and perseverance one overcomes.
(f) there was lack of new planting. The activities on field were limited to mere harvesting of oil palm fruits of which owner(s) of the farm may not be easily traced. The problem was overcome by the use of ADP extension staff who were familiar with the oil palm farmers in their respective areas
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