Mama Dara’s palm kernel oil
Palm kernel oil processing in Nigeria
There is no part of a palm tree that is a waste, from the fleshy fruit to the thick bark of the tree, palm tree is indeed a lucrative cash crop. After palm oil is extracted from the fruit, the palm nut is deshelled to palm kernel. Palm kernel oil processing isn’t a competitive venture here in Nigeria.
Mrs Adedeji started this business about 20 years ago, she got the inspiration from her late mother, who was in business of selling farm produce (including palm kernel, kola nuts, etc) and reselling in smaller quantities. Palm kernel oil processing is a tedious process, from sourcing the best kernel from local farmers, then Mrs Adedeji proceeds to covey them to the processing plant where the first process entails drying these fruits and process mechanically into oil.
Drying is done either naturally by spreading the palm kernel nuts on a sheet of sacks under the sun or artificially by using a mechanical dryer; a mechanism that uses hot coal & a generator to spread the heat evenly. This ensures the nuts are properly dried. This phase is important because without proper drying, the moisture can ruin the eventual quality of the oil.
Mrs Adedeji talked about the rate of inflation in the country as the price she purchases kernel from the farm has tripled by 300%. It was not more than 100NGN as at a year ago, this is so surprising, even the rate of transportation and fuel prices is also on the high rise.
I spent two days with Mrs Adedeji, conversed and watched as her go on with her daily routine. Rebecca Adedeji, her 22 year old daughter who happens to be an agriculture student of the University of Ibadan, assisted her mum at work. Rebecca’s institution happens to be in a general federal strike, so she’s home helping with her family business.
As a graduate of Agricultural economics, I documented this story out of curiosity to see and know the mechanical processing of palm kernel oil.