The project, conceived under the National Initiatives for Sustainable and Climate-Smart Oil Palm Smallholders (NISCOPS), according to a statement issued by the group, was aimed to build farmers’ capacity to implement best management practices, intensification and rehabilitation efforts as well as sustainable climate-smart practices for increased productivity.
“Solidaridad is also ready to introduce innovation for improved downstream processing to increase palm oil extraction rate and quality, create a competitive oil palm sector through policy and institutional dialogue and influencing, and improve access to finance, inputs and markets for oil palm smallholder farmers and SMEs”, it added.
According to Dr. Samuel Ogallah, Solidaridad’s Senior Climate Specialist for Africa, Kogi state, stands to benefit from the expertise of the group in the area of climate-friendly agriculture which it has demonstrated around the world in the last 50 years of its existence.
“The capacity of farmers will be enhanced through increased productivity and better livelihood; the project will build adaptive capacity and resilience to the impact of climate change, and with adoption of climate-smart technology, the emission of Green House Gas, (GHG), will be reduced in their practices both at the farm and milling level,” he said.
Kenechukwu Onukwube, the SWA, Nigeria, Oil Palm Programme Manager, also stressed that Solidaridad’s NISCOPS programme was the right step towards revitalisation of oil palm sector in Nigeria. According to him, the initiative was much important because “Kogi is one of the states in Nigeria with rich oil palm belt. However, most of the oil palm are overaged, and in the wild or semi-wild grooves with poor fresh fruit bunch yield and low quantity and quality of palm oil”.
He identified challenges experienced by smallholders and the government in the sector in Kogi to include “inadequate financial support, lack of good policy direction and other incentives to boost palm produce economy, which the NISCOPS programme will address.”
Onukwube praised the government of Kogi state for being the first among the four states Enugu, Cross River and Akwa Ibom that expressed interest and commitment to partner with the firm on palm oil production initiative. He emphasised that NI-SCOPS’ objectives align with the state’s ‘New Direction Blueprint Agenda for the Agricultural Sector.’
“Generally, the smallholders and the state government have confidence that the oil palm growth due to deforestation will be halted while the livelihood of NI-SCOPS’ beneficiaries will be enhanced,” he said.
Idenyi Emmanuel, Kogi state’s Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, who applauded the palm oil production initiative, also suggested that Solidaridad looks inwards to other commodities such as cotton, cassava, cashew, soya beans, as well as minerals like gold, iron ore, coal, which are in abundance in the state.
According to Emmanuel, arable land worth about 10 million is available for farming in the state; and more than 24 solid minerals that could be transformed to add value to the economy of the state.
Dr. Ayode Arike Folashade, the Secretary to the Government of Kogi state, SSG, also assured that the state government would do whatever it takes to facilitate Solidaridad’s operations in the state.
“My office will facilitate the enabling environment for efficient execution of Solidaridad’s NISCOPS program in the State”, she pledged.