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The oil palm wine economy of rural farmers in Nigeria: evidence from Enugu Ezike, south-eastern Nigeria

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 September 2019

Apex A. Apeh
Affiliation:
Department of History and International Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka
Christian C. Opata
Affiliation:
Department of History and International Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

The study considers the economics of the oil palm (Elaeis guinensis) to rural farmers in a rural community in south-eastern Nigeria. It compares the economic benefits of all products of the oil palm industry – palm oil, palm kernel, timber, palm wine and brooms. It posits that the most important product of the oil palm to the Enugu Ezike farmer is oil palm wine. This contrasts with the view that holds palm oil and palm kernel as the chief products of the oil palm. In a study conducted in Enugu Ezike, findings reveal that annual revenue from palm wine surpasses the six-yearly income from palm oil, palm kernel and brooms together. The study employs an eclectic framework of data collection, involving oral interviews, focus group discussions, participant observation, and the use of secondary sources. The oil palm is by every standard the most economically important tree crop and proceeds from it have positively influenced the socio-economic life of the rural communities, and as a result it has improved their living conditions.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© Cambridge University Press 2019 

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References

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5 The risky jobs of climbing the palms and cutting down palm fruits were performed by men, but the dissecting, picking of nuts, and processing into oil, as well as cracking the nuts for kernel, were carried out by women.

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8 Interview with Ngozi Ogbu, Umuagama, Enugu-Ezike, 13th March 2017. This is also evident in other parts of Igboland as expressed in C. J. Korieh, ‘The invisible farmer?’. Despite the paucity of these presses where they were established, there were protests against the installations by women who felt cheated in the production process and remuneration.

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Ibid

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34 Palm wine from felled trees (Ekpo) is of low quality and does not attract consumer attention in Enugu Ezike. The Enugu Ezike farmer does not allow his economic resource (the oil palms) to be cut down, except in rare cases, for development reasons. In this case, there are traditional processes for doing that, because they recognise the importance of the tree to the community.

35 Interview with Ezeja Ugwuanyi, Umuagama Enugu Ezike, 5th March 2015.

36 The 2006 census figures were obtained from the National Population Commission, by computing the figures of the various communities in Enugu Ezike.

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48 Ibid.

Ibid

49 During festive periods, a bottle of Star larger is sold for $\[{\rm{\rlap{--} N}}\]$250 and Hero, Life, 33 Export beers are sold for $\[{\rm{\rlap{--} N}}\]$200, whereas a litre of palm wine is sold between $\[{\rm{\rlap{--} N}}\]$300 and $\[{\rm{\rlap{--} N}}\]$500, depending on the quality.

50 Wolcot, H. F., The African Beer Gardens of Bulawayo (New Brunswick, 1974), p. 234, cited in Pan, L., Alcohol in Colonial Africa: The Finnish Foundation for Alcohol Studies, vol. 22 (Helsinki & Uppsala, 1975), p. 105Google Scholar.

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56 The gallon used in marketing palm wine in Enugu Ezike is the equivalent of five litres.

57 Interview with Celestine Aba, forty years old, palm wine tapper, Umuagama, 14th October 2014. This view was also corroborated by many other tappers interviewed in Amachalla, Uda, and Okata.

58 Interview with Vincent Atta Eeke, forty-five years old, palm wine tapper, Umuagama, 15th October 2014.

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