There is much work remaining to be done to answer all the technical questions that need to be addressed. However, research done so far suggests that the challenges can be met. The technical information supporting this conclusion is broken down into sections describing the proposals for the plantation, the mill, distribution & marketing, organization, and statutory requirements.
There are three main varieties of the West African oil palm: Dura, Pisifera, and Tenera. The Tenera palm produces the highest oil content of the three, but is actually a hybrid between the Dura and Pisifera. Modern Tenera or variant hybrids are usually planted when establishing a plantation, due to the high oil yield. Over 40% of an individual palm fruit, and over 20% of a fruit bunch from a typical Tenera palm can be extracted as palm oil.
Tree densities as high as 300 trees per hectare have been reported, but it is generally agreed that approximately 150 trees per hectare is recommended. The trees typically start producing in the third year after transplantation from nursery stock, and reach peak production by perhaps the fifth year. In southeast Asia, where the extensive plantations are all descended from a small number of transplanted West African palms, trees are generally cut down and replaced when they reach about twenty years old. However, it is not clear if that is the best strategy for the local Nigerian climate and soil conditions.
Once trees reach maturity and produce fruit, 9,000-10,000 kg of fresh fruit bunches (FFB) per hectare (ha) can be expected from a well-managed plantation. Assuming Tenera palms and good extraction efficiencies in the mill, this will yield approximately 2,000 liters of oil/year/ha.
There are a number of technical details that still need to be worked out with respect to the plantation. These include identifying the appropriate use of fertilizers (if any), general tree care, ground cover/management, possible mixing of other crops, pest control, harvesting methods and equipment, and transport of the harvested bunches. Our intention is to enlist the services of an expert in oil palm agronomy to settle the final details of the operation of the plantation.