BY HASSAN MIJINYAWA.

The Taraba Oil Mills Limited is another success story of the administration of Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State. After lying waste for a very long time, the company is now operational with new milling and processing machines.

The mill’s main plantation and factory, located in Kurmi local government area, has now become the hub of palm oil production in the state. The hitherto moribund factory has been rebuilt and refurbished with bigger workshops for it to handle all the palm fruits that the other government plantations and out-growers can deliver to it for production.

According to the managing director/CEO of Taraba Investment and Properties Limited, Mr. Iliya Ezekiel, the transformed oil mill will be producing about 100 million litres of palm oil a weektranslating into 520 million litres per annum when in full swing.

Government’s plan for Kurmi is to produce enough palm oil for local and international consumption. One of the targets of the state government is to make Taraba oil a household name in Nigeria because of its distinct quality.

About 50 years ago, Malaysia came to Nigeria to take palm tree seedlings. Today, they are the undisputed leader in palm oil production globally while Nigeria’s production capacity continues to decline. Governor Darius Ishaku wants to change that, saying he intends to cover Kurmi, other plantations and parts of Taraba with palm trees so that with time Nigeria can take its rightful place as far as palm oil production is concerned.

The Taraba State government has four otherplantations in Serti, Yaboro, Bisaula and Dakka. They will all serve the Kurmi Oil Mill. For now, about 4,000 palm trees grow in the Baisa plantation. Across the state though, over one million palm trees are in full blossom. In addition, nurseries have been established to serve as feeder for farmers especially the out- growers in Kurmi and other areas. Taraba Oil Mills Limited will begin collaboration with the Nigerian Institute of Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) in Benin City, Edo State in the production of enhanced palm seedlings to give farmers.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently advised the state government to provide more land for the oil company in order to access N1billion credit facility to expand production. This of course, is in line with the drive of the state government to buy most advanced milling machinesfrom Europe to boost production capacity.

The mill will, no doubt, produce enough palm oil to meet local consumption. With one million palm trees from government plantations and out-growers supplying the fruits needed, meeting installed capacity will be easy. Government is encouraging people to plant palm trees in their homes and vacant land as a means of getting a steady supply of palm fruits. The mill will also provide raw materials for other secondary products like palm cake, baskets, brooms and local soap made from palm tree.

Government’s plan to localise oil production at Kurmi is strategic. Aside the convenient weather, the land there is fertile and grows other cash crops like cocoa, coffee, wheat and tea. Government has over 10,000 hectares of land in Kurmi and is planning to do low land teaand coffee production in the near future. It is also planning to establish a cocoa nursery and will start a pilot scheme for wheat production. But for now palm oil is the focus.

Certainly, there is an upsurge in economic activities in Kurmi local government area because of the revival of the Taraba Oil Mills Ltd. Once the mill comes into full production, employment opportunities will increase especially for women who will get about 60 per cent of the jobs available at the mill. The mill in Kurmi is a good example of what can be achieved if political will meets commitment to service, especially with the determination of the current general manager, Mr. Steven Johnson.

– Mijinyawa is the Chief Press Secretary to Taraba State Governor