The oil palm is as old as creation. Every part of the tree is useful economically and for domestic purpose. Processing the oil palm fruit for edible oil has been practised in Africa for thousands of years, and the oil produced is an essential ingredient for food. In Nigeria, it is cultivated in the South East zone and the Niger-Delta areas. Production of oil palm is more sustainable than other vegetable oils. It consumes considerably less energy in production.
Oil palm is also an essential food item, about 90% of the palm oil produced ends in the food production, while the remaining 10% is used for industrial production. As a result of its many uses, demand is growing fast as the world’s population increases and standards of living rise.
There are 3 varieties of oil palm available in Nigeria:
The preferred variety among palm oil farmers in Nigeria is the hybrid Tenera species which is a cross-breed of the dura (female) and the pisifera (male).
The oil palm is a versatile tree crop with almost all parts of the tree being useful and of economic value. The principal product of oil palm is the palm fruit, which is processed to obtain 3 commercial products: palm oil, palm kernel oil and palm kernel cake. The uses of palm oil are mainly varied. Aside from its use in cooking and frying, it is also used for soap making, metal-plating and lamp oil. The kernel oil however is used in soap making lubricants. The residue obtained after extraction of the oil is called kernel cake, which is useful in livestock feed production. The midribs and rachis of oil palm are used for making brooms and roofing materials. The thicker leaf stalk is used for making the walls of village huts. The bark of the frond is peeled and woven into basket while the trunk (main stem) can be spilt and used as supporting frames in buildings. A sap tapped from the flower is drunk as palm wine, which is a generous source of yeast. The empty fruit bunch, the shell and fibre that remains after oil extraction can be used for mulching, manuring and as fuel.
Now you know the various benefits of the oil palm tree. Invest in it!