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Consumer Safety: SON warns palm oil producers, retailers against adulteration, harps on standardising produce for global market

Photo Collage of Oil Palm Seeds and Refined Oil in Kegs Credit: Medium

*The Standards Organisation of Nigeria urges palm oil producers, processors, distributors, marketers and retailers to palm producers and retailers to adopt appropriate technologies and hygiene in the production and storage of the produce so that poison, instead of edible food, is not distributed to consumers

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

As part of its mandate to protect the wellbeing of consumers in the economy, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has urged oil palm producers, processors, retailers, and other stakeholders in the value chain to adopt appropriate technologies and hygiene in the production and storage of the produce so that poison, instead of food, is not distributed to consumers.

ConsumerConnect reports Dr. Ifeanyi Chukwunonso Okeke, Director-General of SON, made the call at one-day sensitisation workshop held Tuesday, March 12, 2024, in Osogbo, Osun State capital.

The market regulatory Organisation had organised the workshop with the theme: “Promoting Palm Oil Value Chain Via Standardisation”, for palm oil producers, processors, distributors, marketers, retailers and end-consumers.

Dr. Okeke, represented at the event by Mrs. Tailatu Kudi Ethan, South-West Coordinator of SON, identified palm tree as an important crop which products are used for food and non-food purposes, stating that it also accounts for an annual average of 70 percent of the Nigerian oil market.

The Director-General of SON, however, lamented that the West African country has not been able to compete well with other palm oil-producing countries around the world.

The Organisation affirmed the continued importation of high quality oil by the local industries because local process have not been able to produce enough to meet their demand in Nigeria.

Harping on the strategic importance of palm industry to the economy, the SON Chief stated: “Palm oil industry has the prospects of providing employment for millions of unskilled and semi-skilled people.

“As demonstrated in other economies, with proper focus on production of commodities of large scale commercial values, improvement in the production of palm oil can effectively mitigate the poverty level in Nigeria.”

How Nigeria loses N94bn to palm oil importation annually —Academic

Speaking at the forum also in Osogbo, Prof. Kehinde Owolarafe of the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Engineering at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, hinted that Nigeria is losing N94 billion to palm oil importation annually.

Prof. Owolarafe, however, expressed sadness that the country, which used to occupy the premier position in palm oil production has dropped to the fifth position, and is struggling to reach two million tonnes to even satisfy local demand.

The academic explained: “Between 1920 and 1960, Nigeria was the leading producer and exporter of palm oil but sadly, Indonesia and Malaysia now lead in the production of palm oil in the whole world.

“Though there has been an increase in palm production in the last few years, Nigeria at present, imports palm oil to the tune of about one million metric tonnes to supplement the local production in order to meet the high demand.”

Owolarafe, therefore, advocated the urgent need to improve the quality and quantity of palm oil production in the country to meet the international standards for exportation.

Warning producers and marketers of palm oil against adulteration in Nigeria, the renowned Professor of Agriculture and Environmental Engineering, opined this could be injurious to consumers’ health.

All hands must be put together to ensure high-quality oil is being produced, said he.

The expert equally noted: “The same climate we have is what Malaysia and Indonesia have and they are doing well. We need to restructure the palm oil industry in Nigeria.”

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