Effects Of Palm Oil Fruit Processing On The Socio-Economic Growth Of Farmers. Until the early years of the twentieth century, palm oil was processed only by traditional village methods, by which loose fruits were collected from the ground or a few bunches were cut from the tree.
1.1 Background Information
The oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) is a native of West Africa. It flourishes in the humid tropics in grooves of varying density, mainly in the coastal belt between 10 degrees North latitude and 10 degrees South latitude. It is also found up to 80 degrees South latitude in Central and East Africa and Madagascar in isolated localities with suitable rainfall. (Kenneth et al., 2007).
It grows on relatively open ground and therefore, originally spread along the banks of river and later on land cleared by humans for long- fallow cultivation (Hartley, 1998). Oil palm exists in wild, semi-wild and cultivated species in three areas of the equatorial tropics, in Africa, in south Asia and in America.
The palm fruit develops in dense bunches weighing 10 kilograms (kg) or more and containing more than a thousand individual fruits similar in size to a small plum. Palm oil is obtained from the flesh of the fruit and probably form part of the food supply of the indigenous population long before recorded history (Lynn, 1989).
A few written records of the local food use of oil palm (presumably from Elaeis guineensis) are available in account of European travelers to West Africa from the middle of the fifteenth century.
In Africa, palm oil remains a domestic plant, supplying the needs for oil and vitamin A in the diet and it was not until the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries the oil palm which is a drupe, whose outer pulp provides the palm oil of commerce, the pulp or monocarp covers the hard- shelled nut which contains the palm kernel that provides two commercial products, palm kernel, oil and the residual livestock food, palm kernel cake (Agwu and Ikechi, 2004).
The oil palm is a perennial crop that originated in the tropical rain forest of West Africa. It spread to South America in the 16th century and to Asia in the 19th century. During the 1970s, Asia overtook Africa as the principal oil palm producing region in the world.
In recent decades, the domestic consumption of palm oil in West Africa has increased more rapidly than its production. After centuries as the leading producing and exporting region, West Africa has now become a net importer of palm oil.
Between 1961 and 1965 world oil palm production was 1.5 million tons, with Nigeria accounting for 43%. However, since then, oil palm production in Nigeria has virtually been stagnated. But today, world oil palm production amounts to 14.4 million tons, with Nigeria which is one of the largest producers in West Africa, accounting for only 7%. Kei et al., (1997) compared the characteristics of the Oil palm sectors in Malaysia and Nigeria and found out that Malaysia’s success is built on plantation management together with processing in large modern mills.
The plantation mode of production is characterized by large scale monoculture under unified management. In Nigeria by contrast, 80% of production comes from dispersed small holders who harvest semi wild plants and use manual processing techniques. Several million smallholders are spread over an estimated area of 1.65 million hectares in the Southern part of Nigeria.
In addition, to the agro-climatic and structural (size and scale of production and processing sectors) there are other environmental and coordination factors like little use of modern inputs and extension service; previously controlled by monopoly marketing board; low provisions of market information, standards and quality control (Udom,1986)
Since independence in 1960, Nigeria’s agricultural sector has experienced slow output growth that has not kept pace with population increases. This has resulted in declining agricultural exports and domestic food supplies and a growing reliance on imported food.
Nigeria has been particularly fortunate in having vast oil reserves but it has also been plagued by economic chaos and political instability over the past three decades while the decline in the agricultural sector can be partly explained by drought and serious pest and diseases infestations, there are other prominent reasons for its decline, including the neglect of the agricultural sector after the oil boom, and unfavourable government policies which greatly affected the technology generation capacity and technology environment, farm level production and marketing environment and production and coordination machinations between different stages of the oil palm sector in Nigeria (Hyman, 1990).
Because of the increased demand for palm oil resulting from an increase in population and income growth, relative to the low productivity of the oil palm sector, Nigeria has become a net importer of palm oil. At the same time, the rapid devaluation of the Naira combined with high transportation costs from ports to internal markets put imported oil in a competitively disadvantaged position.
Thus Nigeria’s first goal is to meet the domestic demand and then if possible seeks to become competitive in export markets. Nigerian palm oil production is potentially competitive in the domestics market if oil palm industry would enhance the overall economic development through the income and employment effects in the rural and urban economies.
Palm oil processing is a major source of income and employment to a large proportion of the resource poor rural population in Nigeria especially in the Southeastern part of the country. In recent times, its production has drastically downsized.
Evidence from (CBN/ NISER, 1992) revealed that this situation has been brought about by a number of socio-economic and political factors along with the technological know how in the industry. Principal among the factors responsible for this decline is the inefficiency that exists in the production system for palm oil processing. Such inefficiencies arise from high cost of labour, lack of linking roads for transportation, electricity, water, inadequate credit facility.
The processors in the study area process oil palm to get palm oil, kernel and fiber. The methods of getting these products are very tedious and laborious. This requires substantial proportion of labour force. The success or failure of a processing depends largely upon how labour and other associated resources are efficiently used.
An efficient processing technique increases the quality and quantity of food available for consumption and trade (Ukpabi, 2004). This would eventually have a resultant effect on the economic growth of the farmers in the study area.
1.2 Problem Statement
Until the early years of the twentieth century, palm oil was processed only by traditional village methods, by which loose fruits were collected from the ground or a few bunches were cut from the tree. Beginning in the 1920s however, the United Africa Company and British colonial officials in Nigeria started experimenting with steam cookers and hand presses designed to make production at the village level more efficient in terms of labour use and oil yield (Kenneth et al., 2007).this also help in Agro-based in Nigeria
Yet a lack of cash prevented most farmers from trying the new machinery, with the exception of a few lucky recipients of free samples or government subsidies in the 1940s (Martin, 1988).
A separate process of trial and error led to the development of the sophisticated factories required to deal with the volume of fruits produced on modern plantations and to produce oil of the high and standardized quality that would appeal to Nigerian food processors.
Conversion of crude palm oil to refined oil involves removal of the products by hydrolysis and oxidation, colour and flavour. After refining, the oil may be separated (fractionated) into liquid and solid phases by thermo mechanical means (controlled cooling, crystallization and filtering), and the liquid fraction is used extensively as a liquid cooling oil in tropical climates, competing successfully with the more expensive groundnut, corn and sun flower oils (Alaga, et al., 1993).
Efforts to mechanize and improve traditional manual procedures have been undertaken by research bodies, development agencies and private sector engineering companies, but these activities have been piecemeal and uncoordinated. They have generally concentrated on removing the tedium and drudgery from the mashing or pounding stage (digestion), and improving the efficiency of oil extraction.
Small mechanical, motorized digesters have been developed in most oil palm cultivating African countries (Poku, 1998).
The factors limiting oil palm processing includes shortage of labour brought about by drift of young people to manufacturing and service industries in large urban areas in neglect of agricultural activities in rural areas.
This shortage can eventually be felt as much on small holdings as on large plantations. Although, economic circumstances or social preferences may reverse this trend, the palm oil industry is reacting to it by providing higher yielding palms tress with improved palm oil extraction techniques.
Since independence in 1960, Nigeria’s agricultural sector has experienced a reduced growth that has not kept pace with population increases. This has resulted in declining agricultural exports and domestic food supplies and a growing reliance on imported food.
Nigeria who was the major exporter of palm oil in the world is now a net importer of palm oil. This is as a result of neglect of the agricultural sector after the oil boom, and unfavourable government policies which affected agricultural production and marketing environment and coordinations between different stages of the oil palm sector in Nigeria (Hyman, 1990).
Palm oil processing is a major source of income and employment to a large population of the resource poor population in Nigeria especially in the South Eastern part of the country in general and the study area in particular.
In addition, many farmers in Afikpo North Local Government area of Ebonyi State are not enthusiastic about palm oil processing.
This is due to the lack of awareness of the economic implications of this activity and the viability of palm processing. In Nigeria, palm oil has a wide range of applications. It is employed in soups and sauces, for frying and as an ingredient in doughs made from the various customary starch foods, such as cassava, rice, plantains, yams or beans. It is also a condiment or flavouring for bland dishes such as fufu (cassava).
A basic dish, “palm stew” employs the extract from the fruit. The following dishes from Nigeria are illustrative of wide range of palm oil uses (Wonkyi,1993).
The characteristic flavour of palm oil prepared by village methods is an important feature of these dishes. Indeed, it is one of their most traditional features. Several of the other key ingredients, such as salt, wheat or (in popular Eastern Nigerian dishes) stock fish, became widely available only in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Martin, 1988).
The economic importance of palm oil cannot be overemphasized, especially in the area of poverty alleviation among rural people. A substantial amount of revenue can be realized from farm gate to village and urban markets. The extra income derived from the sale of palm oil is thus important to meeting social and educational obligations of the rural people (kabuya,1998).
Farmers complain about the high cost of production and that their palm oil do not yield enough economic benefit and due to this frustration, some tend to quit while others seek for advice from those they feel know much about palm oil processing especially regarding the economics of oil processing.
Small scale farmers complain about the decaying of the oil palm and lack of storage facilities after processing. Young youths or graduates migrate to urban regions where they can find white collar jobs, thus leaving the older people to be more involved in the processing of oil palm.
In spite of huge investment of the nations budget in agriculture, yet problem of management of resources, lack of research grants to researchers on oil palm produce, coupled with irresponsible burning of bushes that kill palm trees, all these among others, militate against huge palm oil producing in Afikpo North L.G.A.
There seem to be lack of knowledge on the effects of palm fruit processing on the socio-economic growth of farmers in Afikpo North L.G.A. This study therefore aimed at investigating the effects of palm fruit processing on the socio-economic growth of the farmers. In order to accomplish this task, it becomes necessary to provide answers to the following questions.
What are the socio-economic characteristics of palm fruit processors in Afikpo North L.G.A? What are the methods and technology used by the palm fruit processors? What are the sources of palm fruits utilized by palm fruit processors? What are the effects of socio-economic characteristics of palm fruit processors on the amount of palm fruit processed? What is the profitability of palm fruit processing in the study area and what constraints militate against palm fruit processing in the study area?
1.3 Objectives of the study
The broad objective of this study is to assess the effects of palm fruit processing on the socio-economic growth of farmers in Afikpo North L.G.A of Ebonyi State. The specific objectives include to:
ii) identify types and sources of resources used in palm fruit processing;
iv) determine the cost and return of palm fruit processing in the study area; and
A null hypothesis shall be tested in this study.
H01: The socio-economic characteristics of palm fruit processors do not significantly influence the amount of palm fruits processed in the study area
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1.5 Justification for the Study
This study stands to benefit so many people such as palm fruit processors, NGOs, Government at all levels, Policy makers, researchers e.t.c.
The findings of this study would be helpful to the palm oil producers in finding ways of maximizing benefits from palm oil processing.
This, the study will achieve by helping the producers know, appreciate and consider the needs of the final consumers in other to maximize their satisfaction. It will help the producers to know their shortcomings and improve their present practices and methods in palm oil processing.
The study will also enable the government, to realize their roles in palm oil production and the development of oil palm as a major revenue earner for the country.
This study is done to proffer solutions to the problems faced by palm fruit processors and seek the intervention of donor agencies who are interested in palm oil production.
Palm oil production is supposed to be the chief source of revenue to the people in the study area but instead, it contributes only a small fraction to the people’s income.
This study will show to the people of the study area and to Nigerians in general the great role of palm oil processing to revenue and income generation. This will enable able-bodied men and women to stop moving to the urban areas in search of white collar jobs since they have alternative source of income in the rural area.
This study will also open the eyes of processors and non-processors to other methods of palm fruit processing. It will also help the processors to know their short comings and improve on their present practices and methods in palm fruit processing.
The outcome of this study shall be beneficial to the policy makers who would utilize its findings in formulating relevant policies that would favour palm oil production in the area.
Moreover, researchers in the field of agriculture such as undergraduate students, post graduate students as well as other researchers would discover a gap in knowledge which would necessitate further research. Also, information contained in this research will serve as a useful material to researchers.
Finally, the outcome of the study will broaden the knowledge of oil seed association of Nigeria about local palm oil production and the socio-economic benefits attached to it.
This chapter deals with the review of relevant literature on the following sub-heading:
Origin of palm oil
Methods of palm oil processing.
. Economic practices involved palm oil processing.
. Resources used in palm oil processing
. Cost and returns of palm oil processing
. Harvesting Techniques of palm fruit
. Maintenance operations in palm fruit handling
. Economic importance of palm fruit processing
. Problems affecting palm oil processing and remedies.
. Effects of palm oil processing on the socio-economic growth of farmers
2.1 Origin of palm oil
It is generally agreed that palm oil (Elaesis guineensis) originated in the tropical rain region of West Africa. The main belt run through the Southern parts of Africa. The oil palm is a member of the palmae. It grows primarily in the South Eastern region of Nigeria, which ecologically conforms to the tropical rain forest and derived Savannah belts.
Annual rainfall in these areas ranges from 1000mm in the derived Savannah to as high as 3000mm in the tropical rain forest. It is an erect palm growing to a height of about 30 feet with a stout stem covered with the persistent leaf bases which form suitable platforms for the growth of epiphytes Ashaolu (1983).
Palm oil is extracted from palm fruit. Palm fruit grows in bunches on palm tree. A palm tree bears two or four bunches at a time. The fruit is made of thick, fibrous layer on the outside, which contains the red palm oil.
The oil palm, which has been both, flourishes in natural association with yam and cassava cultivation throughout the wetter parts of the region. In Eastern Nigeria called the greatest grove area of Africa, densities of 200 palms per hectare (ha) were common in the late 1940s, and densities of more than 300 palms per hectare were not unknown(Harttey, 1988).
Their palms were typical self – seeded and tended (to varying degrees) by local farmers. Farther West, in the kingdom of Dahomey and in settlements established by the knobo people near Accra, some deliberate plantings may have been made as the palm oil export trade developed from the 1830s.
The word plantation was often used by contemporary European observers to mean a food farm on which oil palms happed to be growing (Red, 1986) in Nigeria palm fruits were planted deliberately, in swampy regions outside their natural habitat, but where he bulk of production was carried out using natural groves (Kenneth et 2007).
Following the lever debate, the West Africa palm oil industry remained in the small holder’s hands. Few other entrepreneurs came forward to press the case for plantations, although a number of state -run estates were established under French influence (Hartley, 1988).
Yet even this development was relatively modest in scale, as shown in unpublished data from Nigeria, West Africa’s largest producer of palm oil. The area of wild palm groves, only partly harvested, was estimated at 2, 400,000 ha whereas there were 72,000 ha of estate plantations and another 97,000 ha of small holder plantations (Kiple, 2007).
Estate plantations, which require large consolidated areas, are still difficult to create in Nigeria because the oil palm, growing regions are densely populated and the complex traditional land holing system has been carefully preserved. Elsewhere in West Africa, population densities are lower, but the problems of obtaining labour to sustain plantation developments are correspondingly greater.
Archaeological evidence indicates that palm oil was most likely available in ancient Africa. The excarvation of an early tomb at Abydos, dated to 3000 BC yielded a mass of several kilograms still in the shape of the vessel which contained it. (Friedel, 1897) A sample of the tomb material was submitted to careful chemical analysis and found to consist mainly of palmitic acid, glycerol in the combined and free state and a mixture of azelaic and pimelic acids (Kenneth, 2007).
The later compounds are normal oxidation products of fatty acids and the analyst concluded that the original material was probably palm oil, partly hydrolyzed and oxidized during is long storage. In view of the rather large quantity found, the oil was probably intended for dietary purposes.
According to Anyanwu et al., (1982), the oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) is one of the important economic crops in the tropics. Oil palm locally called “Nkwu” (Igbo) and “Ope” (Yoruba) in Nigeria is native to West African humid tropics, the Congo basin and Central Africa, growing wild in secondary forest (Ugochukwu et a., 1999; Akinyosoye, 1976).
Oil palm trees do better on plantation farms when planted on a deep, slightly acidic loamy soil with Ph 5-6. It is mainly propagated by seed through pre nursery practices (Ugochukwu et al., 1999). International Potash Institute (1957) identified the principal product of oil palm to be the palm fruit, which is processed to obtain three commercial products-palm oil, palm kernel oil, palm kernel cake.
Oil palm is the most important source of vegetable oil for all bearing plants, it is the highest yielding. Komolafe., et al (1990) outlined that the leaves of oil palm are used for making brooms and for roofing materials. The thicker leaf stalks are used for walls of village huts.
The bark of palm frond is peeled and woven into baskets. The main tree can be split and used as supporting frames in buildings. The empty fruit bunch, the shell and fibre that remain after oil extraction are used for mulching, manuring and as fuel.
In Nigeria today, the greatest bulk of oil palm and palm kernel is not derived from the cultivated oil palm but the groves of palm growing wild, often in a state of semi-cultivation (International Potash Insitute, 1957).
2.2 Methods of Palm Oil Processing
A good number of documentary evidence abounds on the methods of palm oil processing. As Geogi (1999) observed two broad methods of palm oil production.
The traditional manual methods normally referred to as “low technology” and the mechanized method. The traditional method of extracting palm oil, according to him involves washing pounded fruit mash in warm water and hand squeezing to separate fiber and nuts from the oil/water mixture.
A basket or a vessel with fine perforated holes in the bottom is used to filter out fiber and nuts. The wet mixture is then put on the fire and brought to a vigorous boil. After about one or two hours, depending on the volume of material being boiled mixture is allowed to coll. On cooling to around blood temperature, a calabash or shallow bowl is used to skin off the palm oil.
This is called “wet” method because of the large quantities of water used in washing the pulp. Meshack and srivastara (1990) described the dry method, which they said uses a digester to pound the boiled fruit which is a considerable labour saving service. The oil in the digested or pound pulp is separated in a press that may be manual or mechanical.
Jideani (1992) noted the effect of palm oil processing method on the quality of the processed product. When samples are collected at various stages during mechanized and traditional palm oil production processes, the rate of B-carotene destruction was greater in the mechanical process.
Palm oil processed by traditional methods retained about 3 times more carotene than that processed mechanically.
Gray (1985) noted that palm fruits are picked from the bunch sections and boiled in large pots for about 4hours; 44-gallon (200-liter) portal drums are commonly used. Fawkener 1997) added that boiled fruit is pounded in a wooden mortar with a wooden pestle until a mixture of nuts and crushed pulp of more or less even consistency is obtained.
When extracting oil, it is observed that oil is separated from this mass of pulp by immersing the latter in water. The whole mass is stirred and the crude oil, which has risen to the surface, is skimmed off into another vessel, then the fiber is sifted out of the water and finally the nuts.
Writing further on fermentation Wicker (1998) noted that picking from the stored, chopped -up bunches the fruit is placed in a pit or in a long wooden canoe and covered by microbial and enzyme action takes place with the generation of heat and the fruit.
According to Annon (1998) before the first world war two hand-operated machines were designed in which the fruit was placed in cylinders with hot water and submitted to the action of beaters, the oil and water subsequently being run off through a sieve.
Georgin (1985) showed that the centrifuge provides a clearer, more easily clarified crude oil but gives higher oil content in the residual cake. Similarly, Nwanze (1983) observed those hand-operated hydraulic presses in large or medium sized mills have capacities of from 1.5 to 3 tones and operate a maximum cake pressure of 75kg per cm 2. Stork (1994) farther described the operation of this method and noted that nuts and fibers mixture is gradually moved by the rotating motion towards the end of the drum and in the course of this motion is further dried by the hot air current.
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