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June 21, 2024

Economic Importance of Nigeria’s Palm Oil 

Abasiofon Udo 

Nigeria, with a population of more than 200 million people, stands as the largest consumer of palm oil in Africa. 

The historical trajectory of Nigeria’s palm oil industry is noteworthy, having once been the world’s leading producer in the early 1960s with 43% global market share. However, a shift occurred around 1966, when Malaysia and Indonesia surpassed Nigeria, relegating it to the 5th position with less than 2% of the total global market production of 74.08 million MT.

As of 2018, Nigeria was the third-largest palm oil producer, having approximately 2.3 million hectares (5.7 million acres) under cultivation. This resurgence is indicative of the nation’s commitment to revitalizing its palm oil sector. Notably, until 1934, Nigeria held the distinction of being the largest global producer of palm oil.

Oil palm fruit is an exceptionally efficient crop, yielding more oil per land area than any other vegetable crop. The oil extraction rate from a bunch of oil palm fruits ranges from 17-27%.

Palm oil plays a vital role in Nigeria’s economy. Being rich in carotene, it serves as an essential cooking oil. It is also a primary raw material for diverse industries, including detergents, soap, margarine, confectionery, and bakery trade. Additionally, palm oil serves as additives in animal feed, contributing significantly to the country’s economy.

With approximately 50% saturated fat, 40% unsaturated fat, and 10% polyunsaturated fat, palm oil provides a balance of essential nutrients. This nutritional profile, coupled with its versatility, further enhances its value in both domestic consumption and industrial applications.

Palm oil has contributed greatly to Nigeria’s GDP and foreign exchange earnings.

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