Challenges and Prospects of Smallholder Oil Palm Production in Awka Agricultural Zone of Anambra State, Nigeria
The study examined the challenges and prospects of smallholder oil palm production in Awka Agricultural Zone of Anambra State. Seventy two smallholder oil palm farmers were interviewed for the purpose of eliciting information. Smallholder oil palm farmers in Awka Agricultural Zone were educated (79.2% - Senior Secondary School Certificate and above) and fairly economically stable with 41.7% and 18.1% earning more than ₦40,000.00 and between ₦30,001.00- ₦40,000.00 per month respectively from the oil palm enterprise. Oil palm production practices were characterized with the use of unimproved varieties/natural regeneration (M=0.97); use of baskets for seed germination (M=0.69) and manual harvesting (M=0.88). The challenges of smallholder oil palm production included: high cost of land (M=2.79; SD=0.63); lack of access to credit (M=2.75; SD=0.62); lack of improved planting materials- seeds/seedlings (M=2.51; SD=0.73); lack of storage facilities (M=2.50; SD=0.77) and lack of processing facilities (M=2.44; SD=0.84). In spite of these challenges, the perceived prospects of oil palm production in the zone were enormous, namely; as source of revenue for government and the citizens (M=2.99; SD=0.59); could raise the standard of living of smallholder farmers (M=2.97; SD=0.58); increase in oil palm output/yield (M=2.93; SD=0.83); increase in farmers’ income (M=89; SD=0.80) and improvement in food security (M=2.88; SD=0.60). The study recommended among other things the provision of access to credit and loan facilities, improved varieties of planting materials, modern harvesting, processing and storage facilities.
Key words: Challenges, prospects, oil palm smallholder, Anambra State