The oil palm is native to Nigeria; stands extend throughout the South where it has multiplied in the high forest zone as forest clearing has permitted. It is one of the hardiest of tropical plants. Settlement, cultivation and the build-up of soil fertility through human waste have contributed to its transition from the wild to the cultivated state. Its improvement, in turn, has given Nigeria its most important export commodities. Although traders have purchased palm oil for at least four centuries, the current export trade has developed essentially within the past 50 years. Now palm kernels and palm oil combined account for over 30% of total exports in value.
Palm oil, a rich source of vitamin A, is an indispensable constituent of the basic diet in the Eastern and Western Regions. It is blended in cooking with carbohydrate-rich foods such as yams and cassava. The palm leaves and leaf ribs are used for a variety of structural purposes, including roofing. The sap contains substantial amounts of vitamin B complex; palm wine, a popular local beverage, is made from it.
Exact data on total production of palm oil are not available. Oil purchases by the Oil Palm Produce Marketing Board1 averaged some 186,000 tons per annum over the period 1949-53 and annual purchases of palm kernels during that period amounted to 378,000 tons. Palm____________________