At the time of independence in 1960, Nigeria had an agrarian economy. The discovery and exploitation of crude oil then moved the economy towards industry and generated significant profits. Unfortunately, this supply of foreign currency distracted the Nigerian government from the development support policies that are required for its agricultural sector.

In the mid-1970s, the Nigerian government was no longer able to ignore the recurring deficit in vegetable oil, and decided to establish plantations on a large scale. The programme was launched with funding from the World Bank and aimed to promote sustainable development. Most of the industrial plantations that were created were later sold and privatised by the government in the 1990s.

  • Palm oil

Palm oil is popular among Nigerians, and the oil palm is the most commonly used oleaginous plant in Nigerian cooking.

Although 90 % of the palm oil available in the country comes from smallholdings, Nigeria is Africa’s largest producer of palm oil, ahead of Côte d’Ivoire. It is also the fourth largest producer in the world, at 1 million tons per year, and has a potential annual output of 2 million tons.

Despite the scale of its output, Nigeria has a palm oil deficit relative to its domestic needs. These amount to some 1.8 million tons of vegetable oil per year. Today, the country is still heavily dependent on imports and crude oil revenues, although the local market is very extensive and growing all the time.

Since 2012, the country’s agro-industrial companies, supported by the Nigerian government, have been working together to implement the eight Principles and 39 Criteria of the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil).

  • Rubber

In Nigeria, the majority of the rubber produced comes from agro-industrials. The entire output is then exported.

An important driver of development in remote areas, rubber cultivation also enables pure green energy to be produced: natural rubber can replace synthetic rubber (a petroleum distillation product) and represents a significant carbon sink.

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