In its sustained bid to fully discharge its three-pronged mandate of teaching, research and community service, the University of Ilorin will soon establish an oil palm plantation covering 1,000 hectares of land.
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali, who disclosed this while addressing the 239th meeting of the Senate of the University last Wednesday (April 30, 2014), put the cost of the proposed plantation at N1.2 billion.
Prof. Ambali said that the project would be flagged off on Thursday, May 15, 2014 by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in conjunction with the Ministers of Education and Agriculture, Barrister Nyesom Wike and Dr A. Adeshina respectively.
The Vice-Chancellor explained that the proposed Plantation would provide training and laboratory facilities for students in the Faculties of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences as well as the Departments of Forestry, Plant Biology and other related disciplines. He added that at maturation, the plantation would also be a good source of internally generated revenue for the University.
Prof. Ambali disclosed further that clearing of the site would commence in earnest ahead of the May 15 flag-off date.
Already, a renowned Professor of Agriculture, Job Olutimehin Atteh, has been appointed to head a Committee that would midwife the project.
In a chat with Unilorin Bulletin, the Chairman of the Oil Palm Plantation Committee, Prof. Atteh said that the project would be “a highly profitable venture”, disclosing that “we will kick off with 10 hectares in the first instance.”
Prof. Atteh disclosed that land clearing had already commenced while the Committee had already brought in 2,000 oil palm seedlings from the National Institute for Oil-Palm Research (NIFOR), Benin City, Edo State.
The Committee Chairman said, “We have the tenera variety, which has a high oil content in the fruit and it is expected to start fruiting in two to three years.”
On the revenue prospect from the venture, Prof. Atteh said that at maturation, the University would reap 10 tonnes of fresh fruits from each planted hectare, declaring, “We expect to get 4,000 kilogramme of palm oil, 500 kilogramme of palm kernel oil and 600 kilogramme of palm kernel cake.”
Explaining further, Prof. Atteh said, “At an estimated price of N240 per kilogramme, we will be making N960,000 per hectare from palm oil; N175,000 per hectare from palm kernel oil, at N350 per kilogramme and N4,800 from palm kernel cake at N8.00 per kilogramme”. He added that “at the peak of production, the revenue will be about N1. 2 billion per annum from the 1000 hectares.”
The University of Ilorin is endowed with a vast expanse of land, which successive administrations have been putting into profitable use with the cultivation of several economic trees.
For instance, the University already has about 650 hectares of Teak Plantation, about 46 hectares of Jatropha Plantation, about 28 hectares of Date-palm Plantation, and about one hectare of Moringa Plantation, all of which are expected to substantially contribute to the institution’s revenue generation drive.
The University is also reputed to have one of the biggest campus zoos in the country with a wide array of animal collections. The Unilorin Zoo has an additional facility, the suspended bridge, which is the first of its kind in any educational institution in the country.