How to Start An Oil palm Plantation Business in Nigeria

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Botanical name: Elaeisguineensis
Varieties: There are three promintent types
Dura: It has thin mesocarp, thick endocarp (shell) with generally large kernels. It is genetically homozygous denoted by DD.
Tenera: It has thick mesocarp, thin endcrp with reasonably sized kernel. This is a dual purpose palm for the production of mesocarp oil and kernel. It is genetically heterozygous and denoted by Dd
Pisiffera: It has thick mesocarp (with very little oil content), no endocarp (shell-less) with small kernel. It is genetically homozygous recessive for shell. It is denoted by dd.

The oil palm tree is one of the most useful trees ever known. Every part of the tree from its fruit to its leaves and trunk and to its sap is used for one thingor the other. While the fruits are processed into palm oil and palm kernel oil.

Palm oil is red in color and is used fr domesticand industrial purposes in several countries.

Palm oil is in high demand in many countries of the world.Country like malaysia depends almost its entire economy on palm oil exportation. Making the country one of the biggest player in the palm oil industry.Malaysia is currently producing more than 18.7 million tones (as at 2012) of palm oil and holds the second largest palm oil producer in the word after indonesia, then Nigera holds thethird position.
As of 2011, Nigera was the hargest producerwith approximately 2.3 million hectres (5.7 x 10^6 acre) under cultivation. Until 1934, Nigeria had been th world’s largest producer both small and large scale producers participated in the industry.

Due to unserionsness of the Nigerian Government towards the agric sector after the discovery of crude oil , Nigeria would have remained the world’s largest producer of oil palm. Ironically, Malaysia practiced the farming techniques from Nigeria

Palm oil is a cash crop that sells both in local and international markets. If you have a good quantity of palm oil , selling it is never  a problem because its is a product that always in high demand. A good palm oil plantation is capable of producing thausands of tonnes of palm oil in a year that can be sold for millions of Naira in the Local market or exprted in exchange of foreign currencies.

Setting Up  Your Oil Palm Plantation

Climatic Requirement
Tenperature: 27⁰C to 35⁰C, rainfall is 1500-2000mm, evenly distributed throughout the year.

Soil Requirement:
  •  Deep loamy soil rich in humus and other plant nutrients.
  •  The soil must be slightly acidic with pH 4.5-6

Land Preparation : The site with a good topography is selected. Normally virgin forest are preferred to soils that have been cultivated. The bush is cleared, hoed, ploughed, harrowed and sometimes ridged
Method of Propagation: By seeds

Planting periods
1.       Pre-nursery: August-october or in December
2.       Nursery: 9 months later
3.       Field: March-May (a year after).  
Seed Rate
Pre-nursery: 750 seeds per bag of 60 x60x120cm  500gauge

Germination of seeds

Oil palm seeds germinate so slowly in nature that it has become necessary to develop special methods to enhance the germination process . The basic principle in oil palm seed permintation is subjectthe seeds to high temperatures. Uncontrolled conditions to induce germination. The best method is the dry heat method. The procedure for this method Is as follows:

1.       Seed at 15 percent moisture content are placed intact in 500 gauge polythene bags.
2.       The poly bags are arranged in wooden boxes which are then placed in germinator maintained  at 39⁰C to 40⁰C for 75days-80 days
3.       Soak seeds In cold water for three days, but change the water every 24 hours.
4.       The seeds are then drained and dried under shade for about one to two hours depending on the ambient temperature and relative humidity.
5.       Keep the drained seeds in poly bags in a cool place at room temperature.
6.       Seeds are then examined  every two weeks for drying and germination. Germinated seeds are picked out for potting. This method ensures about 80 to 90 percent seed germination.


1.       Seed boxes or  trays are filled with top soil that is rich in humus
2.       The seeds are kept  at the rate of 400 to 500 gauge black polythene bags measuring A s40cm wide x 35cm deep and placed at 45cm squre.
3.       Provide good shade
4.       Water regularly in the mornings and evenings.
5.       Apply good mulch e.g dried grasses or straws


1.       Use a level land with well drained loamy soil.
2.       Apply about 1.5 litres of water per week especially during the dry season
3.       Apply a mixture of N.P.K Mg fertilizer in the ratio of 1:1:1:1
1.       Apply sulphate of ammonia
2.       Apply muriate of potash
3.       Apply single super phosphate
4.       Apply magnesium sulphate twice  at the ration of 56g per seedlings
5.       Use Dithane M₄₅ to spray against diseases every two weeks
6.       Weed regularly
7.       No shading is required
8.       Spacing of 60cm by 60cm is required.


1.       It usually starts at the outset of the rains, the earlier the better.
2.       It is done after one year stay of seedlings in nursery (April-May)
3.       Poly bag seedlings are best transplanted with the entire soil.
4.       A spacing of 9m x 9m x 9m in triangular form is required in a hole 4.5cm deep in the field.
5.       Trim the root to encourage the development of new ones
6.       Put wire netting at collar of each seedling at 45cm high by 12cm long and 15cm away from the base of the palm to prevent rodents and grasscutters from eating the heart of young palms.   

It is important to plant at right density. You must peg out the area properly. The distance must be the same between rows and each row should also be the same distance between oil palms.
If the oil palms are planted too close together, the roots get in each others way, and leaves do not have enough air and sun the yield will be low if the seedlings are not planted close enough together each separate tree producess much, but the roots do not use all the soil.

Proper Pegging Measurement: Trace lines across the slope and put in your pegs in straight lines , leave 7.8meters between rows and 9meters between pegs. In ths way you can plan 143 oil palms per hectare, this is the best density.

Post – Planting Operations

Weeding: This should be dong regularly using cutlass or herbicides e.g Gramoxone
Fertilizer appliction
  • Apply N.P.K 15:15:15 at the rate of 800kg/ha.
  • 0.25kg sulphate of ammonia six after transplanting .
  •  0.45kg sulphate of ammonia second appllication in April of the second year.
  • 0.90kg sulphate of ammonia third application in April of the third year.

       Cover Crops: Leguminous cover crop is desirable to prevent erosion, evaporation of nutrients and to enhance addition of nitrogen to the soil.
       Irrigation: Watering of newly planted seedlings must be carried out as necessary.
       Prunning: The removal of the lower senescent leaves is beneficial. Such leaves should be removed and  burnt outside the plantation
      Supplying: Supply of vacant or dead strands should be done .
      Mulching: This  should be done during the early rains.
      Maturity: 3-7 years
      Harvesting: This starts 4-5 years from the time of transplanting and continues for the next 25-30 years . Mature branch is harvested when the fruits are red or dark red in colour. The bunches is harvested with a harvesting knife or cutlass, chisel, climbing ropes etc

      Processing: The operations involved in the processing of palm fruit to palm oil and palm kernel can be briefly summerized as follows.
Sterilization            stripping          milling           separation            
Sale of palm oil                         storage                                clarification

After separation the kernel may be subjected to drying, cracking, grading and bagging for storage sale, if they are not to be processed immediately.

Sterilization: This helps to soften the fruits, remove pathogens and inhibit the action of lipolytic enzymes.
Stripping : This is the removal of fruits from sterilized or quartered bunches.Then re-sterilize the fruits for 30-45 minutes.
Milling: This is the pounding of sterilized fruits for the purpose of seperating the mesocarp from the kernel(de-pulping). After the seperation the mesocarp is pounded until no streak of coloured outer skin is distinguished any more.

Pressing: The pounded mass is then loaded into a press for the extraction of oil. There are different types of presses: the screw hand press, hydraulic press and centrifugal press.
Clarification: The extracted crude oil is clarified by boiling and skimming. It is more effective when either the hand press or the hydraulic press is used.
Storage: The oil thus refined is stored in drums, tankers, tin of fottles, ready for sale.

Quality of Oil Extracted from oil palm fruits

There are three types of soil produced based on the method of extraction.
  1. Hard oil – has high free fatty acid (FFA)
  2. Soft oil - has low free fatty acid (FFA)
  3. Special oil –has very low free fatty acid (FFA)
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