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Nigeria’s oil palm expansion: Policy misfires are wasting time

Yvette Uloma Dimiri

Yvette Uloma Dimiri

Yvette is the Product Manager for Stears Business. She has a B.A in Political Science from The University of Chicago.

August means one thing for my family, Iri Ji, the celebration of the new yam harvest. On loop are hazy childhood memories of sitting in my village courtyard with my grandmother and her friends removing palm fruits from their porcupine-like bunches. 

Those palm fruits would eventually end up on our table as a slow-moving red glop of palm oil on steaming hot yam. The fruits could also end up roasting in a wobbly frying pan over firewood preparing to be an afternoon snack. Watching them crackle, I used to wonder where those wild red palm fruits came from. Now I know, my village Ohanze is paved with mangroves of palms as wild and thick as the expectations for a local industry long crushed by globalisation.

The oil palm fruit is one you literally can’t live without. Today, three billion people in 150 countries use products from oil palms, and Nigeria is trying to cash in on it, again. Whether it’s the indomie you had for dinner last night or the lipstick you’re wearing, manufacturers use the oil palm in around 50% of consumer products that people buy daily.

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