The Okomu Oil Palm Company was established in 1976 as a Federal Government pilot project aimed at rehabilitating oil palm production in Nigeria. At inception, the pilot project covered a surveyed area of 15 580 hectares out of which 12 500 hectares could be planted with oil palm. It was incorporated on December 3, 1979 as a limited liability company.
As part of efforts to shore up its revenue base, the company acquired and installed a 1.5 T/h Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFB) mill in 1985 to begin to process its FFB. Prior to the installation of the mill, the company derived its revenue from the sale of FFB.
By December 31, 1989, 5 055 hectares of the estate had been planted. The company also began infrastructural developments on the estate at that period. The facilities included office blocks, workshops/stores, staff quarters, a petrol station, a powerhouse and a primary school for children of the company’s staff members.
In 1990, the Technical Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation (TCPC) privatized The Okomu Oil Palm Company on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
It has since grown to become Nigeria’s leading oil palm company with total area of 33 000 ha of which 17 245 ha is currently planted with oil palm trees and 7 335 ha with rubber trees. Another 4 000 ha of oil palm trees is to be planted within the next year and 1 500 ha of rubber trees by 2020. Currently, the company operates two 30 T/h oil mills and another two 30 T/h oil mills are planned to be operating by 2020/1.
The privatisation of the Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc has been a great success and a huge encouragement for the Nigerian agricultural sector, with profound positive consequences of stable socio-economic growth for the region where it is implanted. The success of the company was further exemplified by the strong increase of its net income which allowed doubling of its dividend. This company has consistently posted profits in the last 10 years, a period during which most other agricultural initiatives in the country had either folded up or were performing sub-optimally.
What is most inspiring is not just the growth and profitability of the company but the fact that The Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc is ranked 10th among listed companies with the largest turnovers quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). It is the only agro-business in the NSE’s top 16 companies with the largest turnovers. According to the June /July issue of the Bottomline magazine, The Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc is the 9th company with the highest profits before tax among companies quoted on the NSE, and the only agro-business on the Exchange’s top 16.
Today, what is now known as The Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc has transformed into an economic success, earning presidential commendations and rated as one of the top 10 companies on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in terms of turnover.
The excellent quality of oil produced by Okomu has guaranteed a premium selling price on the local market, which absorbs the whole production.
Just as its expanding in size, its corporate environment is also expanding. Currently, 3 451 people are directly and indirecly employed by the company (permanent and several independent sub-contractors). All these have added up to place it on top in the burgeoning oil palm business and to position it as an emerging leader in rubber production.
Okomu benefits from the quality management provided by its main shareholders and technical partner (Socfinaf). With a 66.12% share in Okomu Oil Palm Plc, Socfinaf is the biggest single shareholder in the company. Socfinaf brings into Okomu Oil Palm Plc a little under a century of sound acclaimed technical expertise in the world stage. Socfinaf (Luxemburg), is a global player in the cultivation of oil palm and, rubber tree plantations. Socfin S. A. founded in 1912 was the first industrial company to plant oil palm in Africa and Indonesia. It has ongoing plantation operations in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, DR Congo, Sao Tome and Principe, Cambodia and Indonesia.
With all these facts, the Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc has lived true to Adrien Hallet’s slogan:
With nothing we can do nothing, but with little, we can achieve plenty.