In the past oil palm waste were discarded. Not any more as two entrepreneurs are using technology to put them to profitable use, DANIEL ESSIET reports.
Demand for palm oil has been surging on changing consumer lifestyle preferences.
Experts said the oil palm industry offers diversified ways where Nigerians could make money.
Also, palm kernel oil has large value in the market, thus more people are interested in getting it.
With two-thirds of Nigerians living in villages, the Co-founder/Chief Executive Officer, Golden Seed, Lanre Sam-Akinkunmi, said pushing oil palm as the economic engine of rural Nigeria will have a multiplier effect on investments, consumption and exports.
To keep the pace of growth, he said Nigeria needs to enhance productive capacities and boost investment flows in oil palm.
He said there was the need to help producers to become more competitive by making improvements at all levels of the value chain.
Sam-Akinkunmi said oil palm is one of the most important produce of Nigeria that can help change the scenario of its agriculture and economy.
He noted, however, that there is a need to improve produce quality at every stage from planting to production to increase profitability.
But oil palm farmers are struggling to earn revenue and become financially sustainable.
The result is that even when global demand is high for the crop they grow they fail to benefit in terms of higher incomes, cash flow and more resilient livelihoods.
Farmers have reaped fewer benefits than their competitors in Southeast Asia. According to him, decades of prolonged underinvestment have left the industry with ageing, unproductive plantations vulnerable to pests and plant disease.
Therefore, revamping production requires increasing planting new trees and the supply of high-quality seedlings.
Sam-Akinkunmi said small producers were ready to take on the challenges of modernisation, implementing new practices that would improve quality or yield. However, this can only be possible with good cash flow, resources, and the right know-how.
Sam-Akinkunmi, who holds an MSc in Energy, Trade and Finance from Sir John Cass Business School, London, United Kingdom and the co-founder/Executive Director, Ilkin Shahverdiyev (Azerbaijan), a seasoned commodities and finance professional, have been exploring revenue streams.
The two entrepreneurs are focused on pulling some people out of subsistence farming and giving them a much more remunerative role.The greater goal is to promote a stronger oil palm industry where there is money to be made by small holder famers.
He said the business would help to establish local entrepreneurs, improve food security, incomes, and health – while also protecting the environment.
He understands the oil palm value chain process from the beginning and is finding innovative ways to add value.
Sam-Akinkunmi said they were supporting producers with access to credit to allow them to invest in their farm. This, according to him, would encourage farmers dedicate their time to growing oil palm and not worry about fluctuations.
“We are working with 2,000 smallholder oil palm farmers under the aegies of the Nigerian Palm Producers Association and the Oil Palm Growers Association of Nigeria (OPGAN).
“Golden Seeds is helping these farmers with social investments, such as pre-financing for operations, harvesting, milling and after production. We off-take at an agreed rate that is beneficial to the farmers.
“The company is focused on edible oils and primarily focused on the palm kernel oil value chain.
‘’They have a 155,000-tonne palm nut cracker.
“All our value chain development have a target. For the palm kernel oil, we are targeting the soap production industry.
“For the palm kernel shells, we are looking at the cement industry while the palm kernel cake is targeted at the pig meal industry in Turkey, Dubai and Oke-Aro Pig farm in Ogun State.
‘’At every step of the value chain, the two entrepreneurs want to work with farmers to reduce risks and support the expansion of production.’’
He said it would help to increase their efficiency or quality and, in turn, their profits – allowing them to provide better education for their children, improve their quality of life, and reinvest in their farm.
It enables producers to act as entrepreneurs – as business people. He recognises that empowerment is vital to increasing smallholder farmer income.
They have been thinking on how to make money from palm kernel shells. One of the most important diversification initiatives being undertaken by two entrepreneurs is a well-funded, palm kernel shell processing business.
Sam-Akinwunmisaid the project would use oil palm waste to challenge poverty, enable poor farmers helping them transform their lives.
“Because of the capacity, we have begun the process of generating our energy to ease the burden on the community,” he said.
Acknowledging that energy is a prerequisite for rural communities’ development and the achievement of national and international development goals, he added that the project would turn oil palm waste into sustainable renewable energy.
He said oil palm produces large quantities of processing residues that have energy generation value.
According to him, the utilisation and generation of oil palm biomass is accepted and offers benefits for rural areas related to employment, and rural infrastructure.
Sam-Akinkunmi stressed that utilisation of renewable energy resources, in particular oil palm waste, is viable as it can contribute to the country’s sustainability of energy supply while minimising the negative impacts of energy generation on the environment.
He explained that they have found various uses for mesocarp fruit fibres (MF) and palm kernel shells (PKS).
Apart from the huge potential to be used for power generation, not being utilised, Sam-Akinwunmi said the other application of PKS is for road construction.
One of his target markets is the cement industry where palm shell is used as fuel.
– The Nation.