PZ Wilmar Set to Make Nigeria Global Leader in Palm Oil Production
Although Nigeria was once the world’s biggest producer of palm oil in the 1960’s and 1970’s, currently the country imports 350,000 tons of palm oil per year, as Malaysia and Indonesia have taken the global lead in production and exports. PZ Wilmar, the joint venture between PZ Cussons and Wilmar International, aims to once again make Nigeria a global leader in the palm oil space.
PZ Wilmar plans to restore Nigeria’s standing not only through the construction of a refinery with the capacity of 1,000 tons per day, but also through a program of ‘backward integration’ under which the venture plans to plant 50,000 hectares of oil palm in the country’s Cross River State, which is geographically situated directly within the palm oil belt of the equator. The joint venture has already acquired 26,500 hectares that are in production, and has acquired an additional 12,800 hectares from Obasanjo Farms for development.
The final goal is a fully integrated project that grows palm, mills the crude palm, refines it at the refinery in Lagos, re-fractionates it, packages it, and sells it under the Mamador and Devon Kings brands.
The ambitious project faces certain hurdles however, including basic challenges such as reliable power supply and dependable infrastructure, such as roads and supply lines. But possibly the most formidable challenge is government policies regarding imports and duties structures that Mr. Santosh Pillai, managing director, West Africa for PZ Wilmar Ltd. states favor certain companies over others.