1.1 Background to Study
The region presently known as Nigeria existed as distinct autonomous regions. It was thus recognized as; the western region, eastern region and the northern region respectively. Be that as it may, each regions were rich in natural resources. So that their environmental conditions had substantial impacts on the said regions.1 Notable in this regard is the oil palm belt (Abia, Anambra, Delta, Ondo, Calabar, Edo, etc) whose environment appeared favourable to oil palm production. Available evidence exist to suggest that oil palm trees flourishes when planted in deep, slightly acidic loamy soil with P5.6, under a climate condition of humid tropics with 250 cm rainfall.2 The above best describes the oil palm region.
Historically, Nigeria alongside her west African neighbours used to be the centre of oil palm production, so that in the account of some, west Africa alone exported 157,000 tonnes of palm kernel. Of which 73% came from Nigeria alone.3 By 1966 however, Malaysia and Indonesia did not give up championing the oil trade easily so that it need be mentioned that the Nigeria government embarked on several rehabilitation schemes assume the hither to status quo as the palm oil king.
The oil palm rehabilitation scheme (OPRS) was in fact the major Agricultural scheme for the eastern Nigerian ministry of Agriculture during 1962-1968 development plan5.
Based on previous experience from other items schemes<1928, 1938, 1954- 1961> the government agreed among other things to include fertilizer among other items to double subsidy given to participating farmers6 .The Nigerian government equally applied to the world bank for loan, owing to the capital intensiveness of the implementation of it’s rehabilitation scheme. Final decision as regards the loan proved abortive owing to the political disturbances that spaned the 1960s(The Nigerian civil war).
This study however, gives attention to oil palm production in the Midwest region (a region which covers the old Bendel state). Thus, core focus will be paid to how NIFOR , and how government policy have affected the oil palm production in this area from 1960- 19917 . The said area under review is known for its huge involvement in oil palm production. As earlier hinted, the discovery of crude oil had an adverse effect on oil palm production as many disassociated themselves from agriculture and embraced the new found oil. Be that as it may, the governments establishment of “NIFOR” Nigerian institute for oil palm research was a step to revive the crippled sector8 . it is in this vein that this study seeks to access the affect of government policy on oil palm production, using NIFOR as a case study.
1.2 Statement of Problem
The people of the Midwest region have immensely benefited from their involvement in the production of oil palm, amidst other agricultural products, the exploitation of oil palm tree could serve multiple purposes, thus increasing its relevance in the agrarian world. So that it’s rich and multifarous usage enticed the people of the said region to stick to its production. It needs to be mentioned that the seeming discovery of crude oil had a negative effect on oil palm production as less attention was paid to the later.
It is in the light of the above that this study will be centered on the following questions, what impact does oil palm production have on the economy of the Mid west region ?,how has government policy affected oil palm production in the Midwest region.? What factor has led to the sudden cripling of the oil palm sector? How has government policy on oil palm improved the socio-economic condition of the Midwest?
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