Oil Palm is a natural Multipurpose agricultural tree that produces Palm oil, Palm Kernels, Palm nuts, Palm wine, Palm fronts, firewood and fibre. You see, all the parts of this tree are useful to me and that’s why I don’t do without it.
Oil Palm products are in high demand both locally and globally.Wether you are using the red palm oil to cook food, or the wooden part of the tree for your carpentry works, this great natural tree is just what you want.
Over the years, I read about people going into Oil Palm business because it’s lucrative if maintained very well so I also decided to start a small scale OIL PALM business and I haven’t regretted it.
How I Started Oil Palm Plantation
My Dad was a farmer and had many fertile lands where he plants several crops and trees and I learnt a lot from his farming skills – though in a small scale.When he became old and incapacitated, I took over from him. This means I now have very large hectares of land to plant just any agricultural tree and crops.
Already, in some of the lands, there where several grown oil palm trees so I decided to start with oil palm farming. I had to get more Tenera palm tree seedlings from the market because it’s the best hybrid in most African countries.
First, I planted the seedlings in a small plastic container with a fertile soil inside.After about four months, I take the germinated seedlings into the nursery where they will be taken care of for another year and by this time, you will notice about 15 leafs from each oil palm.Now, they will be taken to the farm and planted.
I also did some transplanting and spacing of the trees to enhance growth, nutrients and production.
After three and a half years, I had successfully setup a small scale oil Palm tree farm and have also started harvesting both the nuts and fronts.All thanks to my aging Dad who set the pace and foundation for me which made it a lot easier. For you, you may start completely afresh by first buying some hectares of land, clearing it, buying seedlings, planting, weeding, pruning and harvesting.
How I Take Care of My Oil Palm Farm
Planting the Palm trees and setting up the farm is not all that is required but you have to be consistent with other agricultural practices to successfully grow the farm. These are things needed to be done on your farm.
Weeding is required in every farmland so it’s not excluded in this topic. In my farm, I didn’t plant only the Palm tree but also other cash crops to effectively harness all the resources.
So, in every two months, I weed my Oil Palm farms and make sure it’s free from foreign crops and leaves that could drag nutrients with my crops and trees.Because I’m a local farmer, I usually weed my farms using locally made hoes, machete, spade and rakes.
The Hoe is useful for removing little grasses under the tree as well as adding soil under its roots.
The machete is used to cut bigger unwanted weeds or small trees or foreign bodies.
While the spade and rake is used to pack and gather all the wastes in one place for burning.
Pruning is similar to weeding in this case, I usually employ the services of Palm fruits cutters to prune outgrown and dead palm leaves, remove tree stumps to allow enough air and sunlight into the farm. You know Photosynthesis is required for crops to grow faster and yield more productivity. You should also put wire netting around the young trees.
Fumigation is very important and necessary if you don’t want all your plants to get destroyed.
I don’t do this myself but I have a cousin who is a professional fumigator so I pay him to have my farmlands fumigated.
This practice chases away rodents, kills insects, termites, butterflies, caterpillars and other harmful animals that would eat up my farm products if not removed.
This also helps in fighting infections carried by animals from one farm to the other. Fumigation is done once every month in my Oil Palm farm.According to him, he uses Methyl bromide chemicals for mainly insect fumigation.
For better productivity, fertilizers are needed to help your Oil Palm Trees grow well. Especially the young ones, you need to add fertilizer to give them enough food and nutrients to survive even in the dry season.
ESTA Kieserite and Muriate of Potash are the recommended fertilizers to be used in an oil palm farm (palm groove).
Just like every other business, you must be committed to your farm, a lot of time is required in taking care of the oil palm especially the young ones still growing.
If it’s not seriously taken care of, the palm trees may die off and you loose everything.
How Oil Palm Produces Palm Fruits
- The oil palm has no branches rather it has a trunk and leaves.
- The trunk is also know as the stem and at the tip of the stem, you find a bud which metamorphosis into the leaves and makes the palm tree live and grow.
- A healthy oil palm starts producing male flowers from the base of the leaf for several months.
- After a lot of male flowers has been produced for a long time, a female flower will come up. In some species, more than one female flower will be produced.
- Now, the male flowers will fertilize the female flower(s) which now begin producing fruits.
How To Cultivate Oil Palm
- When the fruits are ripped, cut the cluster down
- Use a cutlass to separate the spikelets
- After 3 days, start separating the fruits from the spikelets
- Then store in a container for marketing.
How Oil Palm Fruit Looks Like
- A fully ripped and matured oil palm fruit stays in cluster and each cluster consists of many spikelets which also contains the fruits.
- To access all the fruits, you need to separate the spikelets from the clusters with a cutlass or axe.
- Parts of oil palm fruits includes the Pulp which is the yellow part that is crushed to get red palm oil. The Seed which is the kernel when the shell is removed. The kernel can be cracked and chewed or crushed to yield palm kernel oil. Note that it’s from the kernel that you get the gem to produce another palm tree.
- For one reason or the other, the fruits of oil palm is not usually the same because – the size is different, some pulps are thicker than others, some kernel has no shell, the thickness in the shell is not the same.
Popular Species Of Oil Palm
- Tenera Oil Palms – produces kernels with a thin shell
- Dura Oil Palms – produces kernels with a thick shell
- Pisifera Oil palms – have kernels with no shell at all.
How To Identify Oil Palm Fruit That Will Produce Enough Oil
Like I stated earlier, oil palm comes in different species, shapes and kernel sizes.
An oil palm with a large fruit clusters will eventually yield more oil. Also Palm fruits from pisifera species produces more oil as it has a lot of pulp but thin shell. Therefore, the larger the pulp, the larger the quantity of oil produced.
Marketing Of Oil Palm Products
The products are in high demand so you won’t find it difficult selling any products of your oil palm.From the money I get from this business, I have been able to take care of myself and my family.
Things You Should Know About This Business
- Oil Palm plantation and business is very lucrative if done properly.
- Start small if it’s your first time
- Don’t go borrowing money in order to start this business.
- To plant and grow palm tree, make sure your land is good for it.
- A good land for this crop should not be rocky, sloppy or sandy.
- The environment should get enough sunlight and rain throughout the year.
- The crop has many byproducts.
Major Things Needed For Oil Palm Processing
- Processing shed
- Plastic containers
- Power supply (Solar, National grid or diesel generator)
- Oil palm sterilizers
- Oil palm fruit screen
- Digester for oil palm
- Oil palm pressing machine
- Palm oil clarifier and
- Bigger storage tanks.
If you want to go into this type of farming and business, you have to be very committed and patient while you invest both your time and finances into it. It takes between 3 to 4 years to start cultivating its products.