Mama Dara’s palm kernel oil

Palm kernel oil processing in Nigeria

Taiwo Aina
3 min readApr 24, 2022

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.

A sac of palm kernel, storage tanks.
Mrs Adedeji pouring kernel into a container for Rebecca. When Rebecca is around, she assists her mum in her business. “It’s a family business” said Bolu.

Mrs Adedeji started this business named Josalice Agro Allied Industries 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.

Rebecca uses shovel to evenly spread palm kernels. She does this periodically to ensure the heat is evenly distributed to all kernels.
Mrs Adedeji at work. A mechanical dryer is used to reduce the available moisture content in the palm kernel to the minimum, 0% if efficiently dried up. This is to get high quality oil when crushing the kernel.

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.

Rebecca pours dried palm kernels into their industrial crushing machine for oil extraction, the palm kernel cake (is often used for the production of livestock feeds as a result of its high nutrient content) exits by the side of the machine. The palm kernel is crushed only when there is electricity supply. Mrs Adedeji depends on electricity because the rate of fuel is outrageous and it’s not economical for business.
Thick oil slurry

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.

The extracted palm kernel oil is collected and stored into tanks for direct sales to industrial users.

I spent two days with Mrs Adedeji, conversed and watched as her go on with her daily routine. Rebecca Adedeji, her daughter who happens to be an agricultural 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.

Rebecca; fondly called Dara, her mum’s lookalike.

As a graduate of Agricultural economics, I documented this story out of curiosity to see and know the mechanical processing of palm kernel oil.

More picture detail below.

Palm kernel evenly spread in the mechanical dryer.
Rebecca reminded her mother about her Mum’s 26th wedding anniversary, it was a thrilling moment for them. Mrs Adedeji went further to make Social media post about the event.
Details of essential tools used by The Adedejis for their business.
Mrs Adedeji packs kernel into bucket. The next step is crushing of kernel to extract oil.
Crushing of kernel in progress.
Palm kernel sludge, a residue collected from the settlement of palm kernel oil. It’s usable as a fertilizer can effectively and efficiently replace maize, weight for weight, in diets of growing pigs as an energy source.
Mrs Adedeji takes account of her stock.

Photographs by Taiwo Aina, all rights reserved.

Co-written by Olalekan Olutayo



Taiwo Aina

An iconic visual storyteller interested in human life daily experiences and the societal issues that affect them. Lagos, Nigeria.