Soil scientists, agronomists and other researchers from the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) and OCP Africa, have introduced a special blended fertiliser for oil palm farmers.
Dr Vincent Aduramigba-Modupe, a soil scientist, who disclosed this on Monday during the farmers’ field day on oil palm specialty fertiliser validation project, held at Offitel Oil Palm farm in Mbak Atai, Itu, Akwa Ibom State, said the blend was developed under the soil survey and soil fertility mapping for oil palm special fertiliser development project.
While reiterating the need for application of specialty fertiliser on specific crops to help boost yields and productivity, Aduramigba-Modupe said the fertiliser was blended by OCP Africa strictly for oil palm as it would not be used on any other crop.
He explained that the researchers went to all the Southern States where oil palm is grown, except Bayelsa and Ebonyi in the year 2020 due to security reasons to ascertain the challenges of oil palm farmers.
He further explained, “After that, we took soil samples and tissue from the palm produce and we analysed what is wrong with the soil.
“As a result of that, we were able to come up with three specialty fertilizers, which we formulated. So we have the one for the South West alone, we have the one for the South South and South East, then we have the national recommendation.
“The difference between these fertilisers is the micronutrients and macronutrients. They are specially blended for oil palm, you cannot use them on maize, cocoa, yam and cassava but strictly for oil palm.”
He noted that since the federal government through President Bola Tinubu has declared a state of emergency on food, it should go further to make available precise fertiliser and other forms of inputs to farmers to help them in their agricultural activities.
“I encourage people who desire to go for oil palm farming to go to NIFOR, demand for the right seedling and right fertiliser and you will have a bumper harvest. This is done in Togo, Ghana, Senegal, Cote-d’ivoire. There is fertiliser formulated for tomato, maize, wheat, etc; we have moved to the level of precision agriculture, we have precise fertiliser for oil palm farmers.
“The president talked about opening 500 hectares of land for agriculture, this is massive, if the federal government can use half of it for oil palm, I tell you in the next two to three years, Nigeria will not import palm oil again rather will be exporting,” he added.
In his remarks, Dr Frank Ekhator, NIFOR Agronomist said the traceable elements, zinc and potassium in the formulation of the specialty blend fertiliser will boost production of oil palm in the country.
He expressed hope that in the next three years, Nigeria might be an exporter of palm oil even as he advised farmers to stop buying all kinds of seedlings to avoid low yield.
On his part, Odunayo Orowumi, OCP Africa’s Project Agronomist said the company decided to go into the project due to issues raised by farmers pertaining to the production of oil palm in Nigeria.
He said that the introduction of the special blend is to jettison the generic fertiliser application of NPK 15:15:15 to all crops, adding that every crop now has its own specific fertilizer.
“You know from time immemorial, Nigeria used to be number one country in palm oil production across the world but now we have been overtaken by about four other countries. We are now in number five in 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 said.
In his remarks, Mr Umar Isa, Director, Farm Input Support Service Department, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development commended OCP Africa for investing in the development of soil and crop specific fertilizer formulation.
Speaking on behalf of the farmers, Mr Offiong Okpongkpong commended the initiative.