By Bisi Olominu
P alm tree has the quintessential image of a tropic paradise and it is more significant than you may think. At the sight of palm tree, most people imagine a sunny beach setting, but these sturdy plants can also grow in a variety of other environment.
This tree has unquantifiable commercial quality. In the first republic in Nigeria, it was the economic base of the Eastern Region of Nigeria. Those buildings built in the region was as a result of this viable tree. As Kano Pyramid of groundnuts was to the Northern Region and Cocoa was to the Western Region, so was Palm tree to the Eastern Region of Nigeria.
Palm trees are a botanical family of perennial trees. They are flowering plants, a family in the monocot order Arecales. They grow in hot climates. In the past, palms were symbols of victory, peace and fertility. Today palms are a popular symbol for the tropics and for vacations.
Oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) culivated as a source of oil. It is grown extensively in its native West and Central Africa, as well as in Malaysia and Indonesia. Palm oil obtained from the fruit is used making soaps, cosmetics, candles, biofuels and lubricating greases and its processing, tin place and coating iron plates. Palm kernel oil from the seed is in manufacturing and edible products as margarine, ice cream, chocolate, confections, cookies and bread as well as pharmacauticals.
Palm tree is significant in all ways. In the Bible, the people of Jerusalem greeted a triumphant Jesus just one week before his death and resurrection, a tradition now known and celebrated as Palm Sunday the week before the Easter. Palms are mentioned dozens of times in both the Bible and the Quran. In Judaism, palms represent peace and plenty.
Palm trees have a history with humans as old as the first societies. Archeological findings have shown that the date palm was commonly used in Mesopotamian society for food and other purposes. Romans gave pqlm branches as a symbol of triumph to the triumphant champions of games and war.
Palm wine is a common alcoholic spirit in regions of Africa and Nigeria most importantly. At every joints in the morning, afternoon and evening, people gathered to enjoy themselves to the seasoning palm wine from wine tappers. Palm tree according to some people is good for curbing fever.
Another use of this tree is that it is good for landscaping and world commerce. The coconut and the oil palm, both are prime sources of vegetable oil and fat the hurk of the fruit is the source of coir, used for ropes and mats, the hard inner fruit layer is used as fuel and to make charcoal cups, bottles and trinkets, coconut juice and water is a tasty beverages. The flesh may also be grated, mixed with water and pressed to obtain coconut milk used in food preparation and as a substitute for cows milk.
Speaking on the importance of palm tree, a farmer in Akure, Aderemi Ojo said that the tree is important for all occasions. He said that from the Bible, it was spread on the road to herald the coming of Jesus Christ to Jerusalem.
“Significantly, palm tree is for peace and harmony. It is good economically, for in the then Eastern part of the country, it was the mainstay of its economy. If Malaysia can come to Ondo State to pick this product and today is the main economy of the country, then we dont value what we have. This tree can earn us more in Nigeria. There is no part that is lost, it is good for all seasoning. Our government has diversified the economy, it should take interest in palm tree to rake in more money to the purse of the country.
“It is easy to plant and within two to three years, palm tree can yield more money to our economy”.
Also Mrs Folasade Adedipe, a palm tree farmer described the tree as a great tree that has been neglected by governments at all level in Nigeria. He added that since the advent of petroleum in the country, palm tree has been relegated to the background while a country that took the seed away from Nigeria is now the largest producer of palm oil in the world.
” I have been in the business of making palm oil for 20 years and it is lucrative. From this tree, you can have many products, but I am mainly on the production of palm oil. The product is useful at various homes and it is the bye product for making candle, soap, lubricant and other things”.
Let government revive this tree in Nigeria. This is the submission of Mr. Gbenga Oni who spoke with The Hope. He called on the governments at all level to revamp the plantations across the country. His words:” Palm oil plantations across the country is in sorry state and there is the need for our government to do something urgent about it. If this is revamped, it can take the country to a greater height like Malaysia. The country Malaysia is benefitting immensely from our generosity and Nigeria too can key into and make the country to earn more from this tree”.