Oil Palm Farming in Nigeria – How to Grow Oil Palm - Veggie Grow

Oil Palm Farming in Nigeria – How to Grow Oil Palm

Oil palm farming is the growing of oil palm for the purpose of getting oil palm produce. The produce of oil palm farming include palm oil, olein, palm wine, palm kernel nuts, palm kernel oil, palm kernel shell and other processed oil palm products.

The process of oil palm farming starts from the acquisition of farmland to land preparation, nursery management, transplanting of the seedlings, maintaining the farm and harvesting the oil palm produce.

Oil palm is a tropical crop. It grows in areas with temperature ranging from 20 Celsius to 35 Celsius. Oil palm needs a lot of water. This is the reason oil palm plantations are mostly found in areas with a high level of rainfall.

Oil palm grows in areas near the equator. This is due to the fact that these areas receive high level of rainfall every year.

The oil palm tree belongs to the family of Arecaceae and the genus of Elaeis.

Oil palm grows in about 28 states in Nigeria. The states of Lagos, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Ekiti, Edo, Delta, Rivers, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Imo, Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Abia and Bayelsa are the states with the highest number of oil palm plantations in Nigeria.

oil palm farming in Nigeria

Steps to Take to Grow Oil Palm in Nigeria

Below are the steps to take to engage in oil palm farming in Nigeria:

  1. Farmland Site Selection
  2. Soil Preparation
  3. Choosing of Oil Palm Variety to Grow
  4. Equipment
  5. Irrigation
  6. Climatic Conditions
  7. Nursery Preparation and Management
  8. Transplanting of Seedlings to Field
  9. Weed Control
  10. Fertilizer and Manure Management
  11. Management of Pests and Diseases
  12. Harvesting
  13. Processing of Oil Palm Products
  14. Marketing

Farmland Suitable for Oil Palm Cultivation

The farmland to be used for the growing of oil palm should be acquired because oil palm is a perennial crop. Do not get a farmland on a short lease.

The farmland should also have fertile soil. The farmland should have good roads for easy evacuation of the oil palm produce after harvest.

Climatic Conditions Suitable for Oil Palm Farming

Oil palm grows well in areas or regions with wet and humid climatic conditions. Oil palm grows well with a temperature of 21 - 3 Celsius.  Oil palm need about 6 hours of sunlight every day, it also needs abundant water supply.

The annual rainfall needed for the cultivation and growing of oil palm is 2,000mm to 4,500mm distributed evenly all through the year. Without adequate water, oil palm will not do well. It is a water hungry crop, though it can tolerate drought.

Oil palm needs a humidity level of 70% - 100% for it to grow well.

Soil Suitable for Oil Palm Plantation

Oil palm can tolerate soils with a pH of 4.0 – 7.0. This crop can grow in almost all types of crops but it is advisable that you grow your oil palm in a fertile soil rich in humus. Avid water logged soil as this can cause root rot for the oil palm trees.

For soil that is acidic, you can amend the soil with the use of limestone, dolomite or agrilime.

Soil Preparation

For dense and virgin forest, the trees and weeds have to be removed. The trees and weeds can be removed with the use of a bulldozer or tractor. For smaller farms, the trees and weeds can be removed by hand.

The soil should be ploughed after the removal of the trees, stumps and weeds. Several ploughing sessions may be done. Harrowing and ridging may also be done.

If the soil is low in humus, manure and compost should be added to improve the fertility of the soil.

Phosphorus fertilizers like Single Super Phosphate fertilizer or Diammonium Phosphate Fertilizer should be added to every pit meant for planting of the soil palm seedlings; this will go a long way in improving the mass of the roots of the oil palm seedlings.

About 300-500 grams of Single Super Phosphate fertilizer may be applied per planting pit.

About 145 oil palm seedlings can be planted on one hectare of farmland, if the triangular planting pattern of 9 metres by 9 metres by 9 metres is used.

Oil Palm Varieties

There are four major oil palm varieties that can be planted in Nigeria, they are:

The Nigerian Oil Palm Variety: This variety takes about 6 – 8 years to start fruiting. It is an open pollinated variety with poor resistance to pests and diseases. However, it is drought resistant.

Tenera: Tenera is a hybrid oil pam variety. Tenera oil palm variety was derived from the cross of Pisifera and Dura varieties. Tenera has some similarities with supergene variety.

Pisifera: This variety has a thick shell; it has a lesser oil yield than Tenera. It is scarce in Nigeria.

Dura: This variety does not have shells, though it produces oil. It is not usually grown in Nigeria


The following are the equipment needed for oil palm farming:

  • Tractors
  • Boom Sprayer
  • Harrowers
  • Plough
  • Farm House
  • Power Tiller
  • Cutlasses
  • Hoes
  • Earth Augers
  • Motorised Sprayers
  • Oil Palm Harvester
  • Weeders etc.

If you can afford it, mechanization is more cost and labour efficient than manual labour.


Sumisansui Irrigation System for Oil palm

Irrigation is the artificial application of water to crops. Most of the oil palm farms in Nigeria are run under the rain fed system. However, if you can use irrigation for your oil palm crop, you will record a significant higher yield.

Imagine, an oil palm relying on rains for a few months and one that is irrigated all year round. Which one will have a better yield?

The following types of irrigation can be used for oil palm:

Drip Irrigation: Drip irrigation passes water to the root zone of plants. A single matured oil palm tree may need 30 – 50 litres of water per day. A drip irrigation system consists of the drip tubings, connectors, end plugs, submains, valves, source of water and venturi injector etc.

Sprinkler: Sprinklers spray droplets of water to plants. To use sprinklers for oil palm farming, you need a large water reservoir. Sprinklers can create a microclimate for your oil palm plantation.

Furrow Irrigation: This is the passing of water between the ridges or beds on a farmland. Care should be exercised when using furrow irrigation as it can cause root rot for oil palm trees if not well done.

Sumisansui Irrigation: This is a type of sprinkler spray hose irrigation system that can be used for oil palm farming.

Oil Palm Seeds and Nursery Management

Seeds are used for oil palm propagation. The seeds are extracted from the palm fruits and pre-heated for 75 days at a temperature of 40 Celsius. In hot regions like Nigeria, the seeds can be dried in the sun for 40 – 75 days. The seeds may also be heated to avoid seed dormancy.

After heating the seeds, the seeds should be placed and soaked in water for 3 -5 days. Beneficial microbes may be added in the water to speed up the process of soaking and kill any harmful microbes.

Sprouting will start after 6 – 9 days of soaking. Once, the seeds sprout, they should be placed in polythene grow bag filled with soil and manure. The grow bags should be wetted with water daily.

The grow bags should be placed under shade. A shade net may be used. The grow bags can also be placed under large trees with branches.

Sprinklers can be used to irrigate the seedlings in the grow bags or planting bags.

Please note that the soil in the planting bag must be mixed with well cured manure or compost.

Transplanting of Oil Palm Seedlings

Transplantation of the oil palm seedlings to the field should be done when the intensity of sunlight is low.

Manure or compost should be added to the soil to be used to fill up the planting hole. Phosphorus fertilizer like Single Super Phosphate fertilizer should also be added to the planting pith. 400 – 500 grams of Single Super Phosphate fertilizer should be added to each planting hole.

The planting holes should be dug and left for several days. The sun heating for days will go a long way in curing the hole of harmful microbes.

Irrigation should be done before placing the soil palm seedling in the planting hole. Microbial innoculants like Trichoderma may also be added to the planting hole. For soils affected with nematodes, nematicides like velum should be added to each planting hole.

About 145 oil palm seedlings can be planted on one hectare of farmland, if the triangular planting pattern of 9 metres by 9 metres by 9 metres is used.

Weed Control

Manual tools like hoes and cutlasses can be used to remove weeds on your oil palm farm. Mechanized tools like weeders can also be used to remove weeds.

Plastic mulches and organic mulches like rice straw can also be used to manage weeds. Weeds can significantly reduce the yield of oil palm if not well managed.

Fertilizer and Manure Management

Manure and fertilizers are needed for oil palm farming. T use fertilizers and manure, you need to conduct a soil test to know the nutrients’ profile of your soil and the microbial count.

Oil palm needs all the macro-nutrients namely nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. It also needs calcium and magnesium. Oil palm also needs micronutrients like boron, silica and molybdenum etc.

Some types of fertilizers to use for oil palm farming include:

  • NPK fertilizers
  • Single Super Phosphate Fertilizer
  • Urea
  • Potassium Humate
  • Boron Fertilizer
  • Calcium Magnesium Nitrate Fertilizer
  • Potassium Nitrate
  • Potassium Sulfate etc.

Fertilizers can be applied by hand through basal application, top dressing and side dressing. For farmers using drip irrigation, Fertigation can be done. Fertigation is the process of passing soluble fertilizers to plants through the drip irrigation system.

oil palm farming

Pests and Diseases of Oil Palm

The following are the pests and diseases that affect oil palm:

  • Oil Palm Swollen Shoot Disease
  • Die Back Disease
  • Oil Palm Canker Disease
  • Mirids
  • Mealybugs
  • Aphids
  • Caterpillars
  • Termites
  • Nematodes etc.


Harvesting of oil palm starts after the 3rd year for some hybrid oil palm varieties. Cutlasses and sickles can be used to harvest the palm fruits.

For large farms, mechanical oil palm harvesters can be used to harvest the palm bunches.

Harvesting should be done when the palm fruits have turned to yellow or red colour.

Processing of Oil Palm Products

Harvested oil palm fruits can be processed to palm oil, olein and other products. The palm kernels can also be processed into palm kernel oil and other products.


Oil palm produce can be sold in the local markets in Nigeria. They can also be exported. Crude Palm Oil is an exportable product.

Cost of Oil Palm Farming Per Hectare

The cost of setting up a one hectare plantation of oil palm varies, the below shows the cost:

  • Acquisition of one hectare farmland: 90,000 – 350,000
  • Surveying and Land Documentation: 90,000 – 190,000
  • Clearing, Ploughing and Harrowing: 45,000
  • Seedlings: 41,000
  • Planting: 11,000
  • Irrigation: 290,000 – 640,000 (Optional)
  • Fertilizers and Manure: 20,000 – 100,000 (Depending on soil fertility)
  • Pesticides: 22,000
  • Others: 90,000

For more information about the cost of setting up a one hectare oil palm farm in Nigeria, please contact us through sales@veggiegrow.ng.

Yield of Oil Palm

The yield of oil palm depends on the soil type, climate, use of irrigation, types of fertilizers used and other agricultural practices.

One hectare of oil palm can yield 9 – 13 tons after 3 – 8 years of planting. The yield of oil palm increases every year. At the 8-9th year, the yield can increase by over 100%.

Advantages of Oil Palm Plantation

The following are the advantages of having an oil palm plantation:

It can provide employment opportunities

Oil palm products can be exported to improve the foreign reserves of Nigeria.

It can provide life-long income for farmers.

The planting of oil palm trees can absolve excess carbon from the atmosphere and reduce the effects of the depletion of the ozone layer.

Oil palm trees are assets that cannot be stolen.

Oil palm produce can be used as food for human and animals.

Should you wish to know more about oil palm farming or you want to set up an oil palm farm, please contact us on 08025141924 or send an email to sales@veggiegrow.ng.

Read our latest article on how many oil palm trees in 1 hectare here.

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