Soludo’s Coconut, Oil Palm Agenda To Bring Prosperity To Anambra Gathers Steam
By Christian ABURIME
It takes a thinker-leader to think out of the box and see opportunities beyond the obvious. In an environment where quicker paths to economic prosperity may seem more attractive, disruptive leaders would rather cast their nets wider and farther.
This has been the approach to leadership by Anambra State Governor, Prof Chukwuma Charles Soludo, CFR, since he came to office.
An uncommon visionary with a dogged commitment to the welfare of his people, the governor understands that the foretellers of fortune could as well be found in the palms of Mother Earth. For years, our youth have been migrating to cities and overseas in search of opportunities, leaving behind the agricultural lands that once sustained their families. Unemployment and underemployment were rampant, and the cycle of poverty seemed unbreakable. However, Governor Soludo saw hope in a green promised land.
He recognized the natural blessings that Anambra possessed – its fertile soil, abundant sunlight, and ample rainfall. He believed that by tapping into these resources and harnessing the potential of coconut and oil palm farming, he could lay the foundation for a prosperous future.
Quietly and steadily, Soludo’s government began distributing millions of high-yield coconut and oil palm seedlings to the people of Anambra. So far, the government has distributed a total of 1.1 million oil palm and coconut high- yielding seedlings to over 100,000 households in Anambra State. And there is concrete plan to sustain the distribution of one million seedlings per annum over several years in continuation of the green revolution.
Governor Soludo’s ultimate vision is to create a new palm-coconut green/industrial ecosystem that will guarantee 500,000 – 1,000,000 households earning N1.5m to N3m per annum, thereby lifting them out of poverty, creating wealth and earning foreign exchange for Nigeria.
The public response to this green agenda has been nothing short of astonishing. Every household, young and old, rich and poor, in Anambra and outside all the way to the Diaspora, have been scrambling to get a piece of the action as they realize that the potential windfall from the ambitious coconut and oil palm project could spin new wealth avenues in the near future.
The anticipation to receive those precious gifts of high-yield palm seedlings is quite high. The promise of a transformed future is now beckoning many, and the enthusiasm is indeed contagious.
In villages and towns across Anambra, a wave of the green revolution has started to ripple. Fallow lands are being cleared and prepared for planting. Families are coming together, working side by side, as the first seedlings are being carefully placed into the earth. As more millions of seedlings become available, the months and years ahead will witness a transformation like never before. Coconut trees will grow tall and strong, and oil palm groves will flourish, yielding the new fruitful treasures of fortune.
The once-dormant lands will be buzzing with activity, as coconut and oil palm farming will become the backbone of a thriving agricultural economy in Anambra State. New jobs will be created; wealth will be produced, while poverty will begin to recede like a distant memory.
No doubt, in Nigeria as in other parts of the world, coconut and palm oil are two of the most important cash crops. They are used in a variety of products, including food, cosmetics, and biofuels. The demand for these crops is growing rapidly, both domestically and internationally.
Estimates show that a coconut tree can produce an average of 50-70 coconuts per year. The price of a coconut varies depending on the location, but it typically sells for around $0.50 to $1.00 each. This means that a farmer can earn an average of $25 to $70 from each coconut tree annually. If a farmer plants 100 coconut trees, they can potentially earn $2,500 to $7,000 per year.
Also, an oil palm tree can produce an average of 20-30 fresh fruit bunches (FFBs) per year. Each FFB weighs around 15 kilograms and contains about 2.5 kilograms of palm oil. The price of palm oil varies depending on the market, but it typically sells for around $600 per metric ton. This means that a farmer can earn an average of $1,500 to $2,400 per year from each oil palm tree. If a farmer plants 100 oil palm trees, they can potentially earn $150,000 to $240,000 per year.
Converted to the Nigerian naira, one can imagine earnings in millions every year as earlier mention.
However, the actual earnings from coconut and oil palm farming per year may vary depending on a number of factors, such as the yield of the trees, the price of the crops, and the cost of production. In terms of the quality of the seedlings, using high-quality seedlings, such as being distributed by Soludo government, will help to ensure that the trees produce a high yield. The trees also need to be properly cared for in order to produce a high yield. This includes providing them with water, fertilizer, and pest control as and when necessary.
The farm location could also be a factor as the climate and soil conditions could affect the yield of the trees.
And of course, the market price for the crops may vary depending on the market conditions at any given time. Despite all the variables, both coconut and oil palm farming have the potential to generate significant income for every household. But the potential bumper economic benefits are only one side of the Soludo government’s grand green palm revolution.
The other side is the ecological and urban renewal benefits for Anambra State cities with the planting of palm trees alongside other tree types. It would be recalled that the governor last year joined in celebrating 2022 World Environment Day by launching an initiative of planting one million trees in Anambra State. Indeed, natural decorative palm trees and others have immense benefits for our environment.
For instance, palm trees contribute to environmental conservation by preventing soil erosion, especially in areas prone to heavy rainfall and flooding like Anambra.
Their roots help stabilize the soil, making them valuable in preventing landslides and maintaining the health of the ecosystem.
Palm trees can also enhance the visual appeal of an area, contributing to its aesthetics and overall landscape. Urban renewal and beautification efforts in Awka and other cities will definitely benefit from the aesthetic appeal of palm trees.
In terms of biodiversity, palm trees provide habitat and resources for various wildlife species, thereby supporting local biodiversity. And palm trees can provide shade and help cool the environment, which can be especially important in tropical climates like Anambra.
Trees, including palm trees, also play a role in absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which helps mitigate the effects of climate change facing the larger world today.
Overall, the exciting story of Governor Soludo’s resurgent coconut and oil palm farming in Anambra State is one of hope and opportunity.
It is a story about how a thinking government can empower its people to create a better future for themselves. It is a story about how agriculture can be a force for good in the world.
And it is the story of proactive, dynamic leadership thinking in long-term perspective, to help lift people out of poverty and bequeath a worthy legacy for posterity.