Soil scientists, agronomists, and other experts from the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR), and OCP Africa have developed a unique blend of fertilizer for oil palm producers.
Dr. Vincent Aduramigba-Modupe, a soil scientist, revealed this on Monday during a farmers’ field day on oil palm specialty fertiliser validation project held at Offitel Oil Palm farm in Mbak Atai, Itu, Akwa Ibom State, saying the blend was developed as part of the soil survey and soil fertility mapping for oil palm special fertiliser development project.
While stressing the importance of applying speciality fertilizer to certain crops to assist enhance yields and productivity, Aduramigba-Modupe stated that OCP Africa blended the fertilizer specifically for oil palm and will not be used on any other crop.
He explained that the researchers visited all of the Southern States where oil palm is cultivated, with the exception of Bayelsa and Ebonyi, in 2020 to assess the issues faced by oil palm growers.
“After that, we took soil samples and tissue from the palm produce and analyzed what was wrong with the soil,” he continued.
“As a result, we were able to develop three specialty fertilizers that we formulated.” So we have one for the South West only, one for the South South and South East, and then the national proposal.
“The micronutrients and macronutrients differ between these fertilizers.” They are uniquely formulated for oil palm; they cannot be used on maize, cocoa, yam, or cassava.”
He stated that because the federal government, through President Bola Tinubu, proclaimed a state of food emergency, it should go further to make exact fertilizers and other types of inputs available to farmers to assist them in their agricultural activities.
“I encourage anyone interested in going into oil palm farming to go to NIFOR, demand the right seedling and fertilizer, and you will have a bumper harvest.” This is practiced in Togo, Ghana, Senegal, and Côte d’Ivoire. There is fertilizer developed for tomato, maize, wheat, and other crops; we have progressed to precision agriculture, and we have exact fertilizer for oil palm producers.
“The president mentioned opening 500 hectares of land for agriculture; this is massive; if the federal government can use half of it for oil palm, I guarantee you that in the next two to three years, Nigeria will no longer import palm oil but will export it,” he continued.
Dr Frank Ekhator, NIFOR Agronomist, stated in his remarks that the traceable components, zinc and potassium in the formulation of the custom mix fertiliser will increase oil palm productivity in the country.
He expressed optimism that Nigeria might become a palm oil exporter within the next three years, while also advising farmers to stop purchasing all types of seedlings to avoid low output.
Odunayo Orowumi, OCP Africa’s Project Agronomist, stated that the company opted to participate in the project due to concerns made by farmers about the cultivation of oil palm in Nigeria.
He stated that the introduction of the customized blend is intended to do away with the general fertiliser application of NPK 15:15:15 to all crops, and that each crop now has its own specific fertilizer.
“You know, Nigeria has been the world leader in palm oil production since time immemorial, but we have now been surpassed by four other countries.” We have risen to fifth place in the global ratings.
“OCP took it upon itself to do soil analysis in various locations where oil palm is being grown across the country, and this was done across 17 states, and we have about 30 trial plots across these 17 states,” he explained.
Mr Umar Isa, Director, Farm Input Support Service Department, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, praised OCP Africa for investing in the development of soil and crop specific fertilizer formulations in his remarks.
Mr Offiong Okpongkpong, speaking on behalf of the farmers, praised the initiative.