Oil palm farming is a lucrative and very profitable Agribusiness. Palm oil originated from West Africa with Nigeria being the world major producers of oil palm before crude oil took over. That is why up till today you will still see oil palm dynasty in Akwa Ibom State of course the produce the best palm oil so far in Nigeria.
As it stands Malaysia has overtaken Nigeria and are now the leading producers. The country depends solely on oil palm business and allied industries for their economy. Other countries that follows the lead are; Indonesia, Columbia and Thailand. The business of oil palm farming is not a get rich quick kind of business, it takes about 4 years before you can start making money but it is worth the wait.
If there is any farming business I can advice any body to go into it is Oil Palm Farming. Government and Public servants work so that they can live on pension after retirement but for me I have resolved that my pension would be palm oil plantation. This is a business that can serve many generations, it can secure a future for the family.
The most important thing is to secure a land because you wouldn’t want to lease a farmland it is not advisable. To get a cheap land you have to go to the village and purchase. But you have to survey the land, get a C of O to avoid troubles in the future.
It can serve for more than 50 years before diminishing return sets in. By then you can start replacing and phasing out the oil palm section by section.
TIPS ON OIL PALM FARMING
Economically, it is not wise to use one hectare for oil palm farming because of the cost of setting it up, 10 hectares is ideal. To start you need from 1 million Naira and above to spend for the four years before the oil palm starts producing. Land is not inclusive.
You can still start with one hectare if that’s what you can afford. A hectare of palm fruit will give about 2000 litres which can be sold for #350,000 plus. The kernel can be sold for #100,000 or so. Which is not bad because it would keep appreciating every passing year.
To maximise profits and to have some cash to push the farm till they start spilling out money you have to interplant with another crop. The space is wide enough to let any other crop do well until the oil palm trees starts closing canopies.
This could be from the 7th or 9th year. In oil palm farming you can interplant cassava, plantain etc. Something that you can harvest within a year. Cultivating crops that takes a year to mature will help provide the money that can be used in the maintenance cost of the palm trees when the products are sold. I prefer interplanting plantain because of the huge money it provides If you want to learn how to start plantain farming click here.
You should plan how to incorporate other means of making more money from your palm plantation such as:
A milling company for processing palm fruits into red palm oil
A milling company for processing palm kernel nuts into vegetable oil
A company that uses both palm oil and palm kernel oil. It could be a soup company. Cosmetic industry or industrial company, the list goes on and on.
Choose a well-drained and loosed sandy loam soil rich in organic matters, with acidic PH of 5.0-7.0. You can carry out a soil test to determine the level of its nutrients content. If the place is a virgin land you have to create pathways for vehicular movement. Cut down shrubs and trees, clear grasses, plough the ground and survey the land.
But for non virgin land with less trees clear the land, make use of harrow and plough to level it, and do perimeter survey. Peg the land in readiness for planting. The standard spacing recommended by NIFOR is 9m by 9m whether triangular or straight method layout.
VARIETIES OF OIL PALM
Tenera palm tree with good management and adequate amount of water will start yielding fruits after 3 years of planting in the main field. But the first-seven years the bunches will be small from the 8th or 9th year the bunches will increase in size. A bunch of palm fruit weighs between 25kg-44kg and produces about 40 litres of red palm oil yearly.
Super-gene oil palm shoots about 15 bunches at a time. It can produce 25 bunches per palm tree in a year.
Harvest is early (22-24 months) when compared to SIRIMstandard which is between 36-48 months. And the first harvest is between 7-8 tonnes a hectare. Super-gene has high yield which is two times higher than SIRIM. It is a dwarf tree so harvesting is less streeful and less cost. The seeds and bunches are very big with higher oil.
If you are a starter it is ideal you buy already germinated seed from a known nursery or you buy from NIFOR in your location. It could be the smaller seedlings that goes for #30-#50 or the advance ones that goes for #120-#150. To avoid the stress that goes with it then start nursery after gaining more experience. Supergene is about #700 and above for a seedling depending on who you are buying from.
Give a space that will allow tractors into your farm but if you have other means of conveying your palm fruits after harvest. You can reduced your spacing to what suits you like 8m by 9m or 8m by 8m. Preferably 9m by 9m (recommended spacing by Nigeria Institute For Oil Palm Reserve NIFOR) is the best spacing to use.
If you use 7m by 7m spacing the fruiting and growth will reduce since the palm trees will be competing with each other for the nutrients. The roots will get into each others path thereby reducing yield.
Planting should be done with collaring and canning at the same time so as to keep rodents off. It can be done with the use of tin or wire mesh. Nursery can take 14 months or a year for the plants to mature before transplanting. A hectare will take 150 stands for optimum yield.
HOW TO ESTABLISH OIL PALM NURSERY
- Bring out the seeds from their exocarp by the use of water or knife. For speed water is preferable. Dry the seeds for about 2-3 days under shade, this way even if you wanted to store them, they will last for about 9 months with its viability intact but should be stored under a temperature of 27°C.
- The seeds are soaked in water for 5 days but water should be change on a daily basis during those days. Put the seeds in a polythene bag and keep the bag where it can stay and germinate under a temperature of 40°C.
- Remove the seeds from the polythene bag after 80 days and put them in water for 5 days, but always changing the water used for soaking daily.
- Bring them out of water and dry for just 2 hours, put them back into the polythene bag. And keep them in a cool place to maintain their moisture content. After 10-12 days the seeds will germinate. This method is the surest way of getting optimum germination of 90-99%.
- Use polybag such as the black nursery bag of 40×35cm. Fill them up with sandy-loam soil that is rich in organic matters. Lay them out with a spacing of 45×45cm putting just one spouting seed in each bag. Mulch them so as to retain moisture. Irrigate them 3 times a week, apply NPK fertilizer 15:15: 6 mixed with 5 litres of water for 100 seedlings when the plants are 2 and 8 months old respectively.
- One month before planting dig the spot you peg and remove any root or stump that may hinder the growth of the oil palm or their roots penetration. The hole should be 0.60m long/wide 0.80m deep. Don’t mix the dug out soil together, return them the same way you brought them out. Planting should be done between May-June. The polythene bag is turn open and the entire ball of earth is buried in the hole (50×50×50) and levelled.
PEST AND DISEASES IN OIL PALM FARMING
Rhinoceros beetle, Mealybug, Aphids, Caterpillar, Termites, Nematodes are some of the pest. Some of the diseases are; Freckle, seedling blight, vascular wilt, fruit and trunk rot.
Plant resistant varieties like the hybrid seedling, use pesticide.
Grasscutters are a threat to oil palm seedlings, they dig them up to the root before feeding on them. Another thing to watch out for is birds, they feed on oil palm fruits. Use alarm bell to scare them off. Secure your oil palm farming from anything that can destroy it.
COST ANALYSIS FOR A 10 HECTARE OF OIL PALM PLANTATION
Land 10 hectare (in a village) – #1,000,000
Seedlings(supergene) – #700 × 150 stands × 10 hectared = #1,005,000
Land clearing – #150,000 depending on location
Planting – #100,000
Fertilizer – #140,000
Weeding machine – #55,000 × 3 = #165,000
Harvester – #200,000 (estimated)
Others – #400,000
To reduce cost employ only 2 most important staff which are Supervisor, security and (or) operators in the case of mechanized farming. This is because oil palm is seasonal, you will only need more hands during major harvest which is 4 times in a year employ daily paid workers for that time only.
Use weeding machine for weeding the type that is used to mowing lawns#cutting of grasses on major roads or in some institutions it would save cost. The price for one is #55,000 you can buy three for keep to be using when the need arises but weeding should be carried out twice a year.
The first weeding should be done after 3 months of transplanting into the main field.
The second is another 3 months after the first. You can even use your family members or labourers to do the weeding if you don’t have the money to purchase weeding machine. When the oil palm closes canopy weeding will be reduced.
FERTILIZER APPLICATION IN OIL PALM FARMING
Apply fertilizer after 3 months of transplanting to the main field. Use NPK fertilizer
Planting should be done during the early rains so that they can be established before dry season sets in. However where there is shortage of rainfall or when draught sets in you have to provide the plant with adequate water to grow well.
PROFITABILITY IN OIL PALM FARMING
That there is gain in oil palm farming is not in doubt. Everything about the tree is money; a mature palm fruits produces 5 tons of red palm oil annually for a hectare of farm. But for supergene it produces 7 tonnes and above.
7 tonnes x 10 hectare = 70
A ton of palm oil goes for #240,000
240,000 x 70 = #16,800,000
This is only for the red palm oil
A hectare can produce 3 tonnes of palm kernel oil (PKO)
3 tonnes x 10 hectare = 30 tonnes
A ton goes for #400,000
400,000 x 30 = #12,000,000
Palm kernel oil + Palm oil =#28,800,000
If this kind of money is realised from just 2 out of many other products then you should know that going into oil palm farming business is the best decision to make.
25 tons of palm nuts will produce 10 tons of palm oil, 13.5 tons of cake and 5 tons of sledge.
A ton of palm kernel cake is #40,000
And a ton of sledge is #100,000
Please note that the estimated cost/gain mentioned here is not fixed. Just like any other Agricultural produce the price of palm oil and others do change. Also the amount used will depend on location and season. The good thing is oil palm business will make you rich.
THE MANY BENEFITS OF OIL PALM FARMING
Apart from the production of red palm oil which is the major one, other things gotten from oil palm are;
The residue of the processed palm fruit is used for fuel and can also serve as fertilizer to crops
Palm kernel oil is extracted from the nuts and can be used in making soap and vegetable oil used for preparing food. The cake from palm kernel oil residue is used in feeding livestock
The back of the palm fond can be used in weaving baskets, hat etc. Palm fond leaves are used for brooms, roofing and mat making. Oil palm tree trunk can be splitted for firewood or into timber for building purposes. It can also be used to grow mushroom, serves as house to some milky coloured insects that are edible.
Red palm oil is used for cooking, margarine, candle and soap making etc.
Depending on the specie planted and the months for the nursery then the year of harvest will also be different. During harvest, palm fruits are harvested every 10-14 days. A palm fruit bears between 5-7 fruits. Use harvester for pruning and harvesting of the fruits.
A mature palm fruits becomes reddish in colour and can give 50 tonnes of red palm oil annually per hectare from the 4th year. Some of the seeds will be falling from the tree on their own signifying ripeness. 20 metric tons of palm kernel oil can be gotten from a hectare.
The market for palm oil in Nigeria is large. Make contact with dealers of palm oil especially those from the North and make a deal with them, they will be the ones coming down to your mill to buy from you.
In case you don’t want to process by yourself then go to millers and register with them so you can be supplying them whenever you harvest your palm fruits. If you don’t have a mill but wants to process you can pay a token to the millers and they will process your palm fruits for you.
Red palm oil doesn’t spoil it can be store for many years you can decide to sell them out during off-peak period. But make sure you process best quality palm oil. click here to learn how to do red palm oil business.
There is nothing in life that doesn’t have a risk, it is usually said that life itself is a risk. Oil palm farming has its own share which are;
Fire outbreak, you can lose your investment if there is fire destruction on your crops. Or any other natural disaster
Communal clashes it can result in property forfeiture just like in the case of Ikot Umo Essien in Akwa Ibom State and Nkwa in Abia State. Federal Government now occupies their property.
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