The Senate has called on the Federal Government to impose a ban on the importation of palm oil into the country in a bid to protect local production and encourage farmers.

The upper chamber of the National Assembly, Tuesday adopted a motion on the “Urgent Need to Halt the Importation of Palm Oil and its Allied Products to Protect Palm Oil Industry in Nigeria,” sponsored by Senator Francis Alimikhena who lamented the rate of palm oil imports into the country.

Alimikhena decried the continued importation of palm kernel and allied palm products, lamenting that it was crippling local production as well as depleting foreign reserves, and described the situation as inimical to Federal Government’s economic diversification policy.

The senator revealed that Nigeria imported 450,000 tonnes of palm oil estimated at N116.3 billion last year.

“The government must reverse this trend with copious investments in the local palm industry and the protection of local producers from unnecessary imports,” Alimikhena told his colleagues at plenary, Tuesday.

He stated that Nigeria had the land and human resources to boost local production and called for efforts to regain the country’s lost position in palm oil production to create jobs and boost foreign exchange earnings.

On his part, Senator Theodore Orji called for a special fund to boost local production of palm oil which was a major income earner for the country, decrying the moribund state of many palm oil production plants.

In their separate submissions, Senators Jibrin Barau and Rabiu Kwankwaso called on the government to ban the importation of cash crops for which Nigeria has comparative advantage.

On his part, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, called on the government to revive the palm oil sub-sector of the economy to create jobs and generate income for farmers.