Nigeria’s palm oil imports from Malaysia jumped 65.3% in the first nine months of 2023 compared to the same period last year, underscoring the wide gap between domestic supply and demand in Africa’s most populous country.
According to data from the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, Nigeria imported 234,324 metric tonnes of palm oil from January to September 2023, up from 141,786 metric tonnes in the same period in 2022.
The surge in imports comes despite the Nigerian government’s efforts to protect and grow the domestic palm oil industry by imposing a 35% tariff on foreign palm oil imports. The tariffs were intended to spur local production and reduce dependence on imports to meet rising consumer demand.
However, industry experts estimate Nigeria’s current palm oil output at just 900,000–1.3 million metric tonnes annually, far short of the estimated national demand of around 2.1 million metric ns. This supply-demand imbalance has kept imports elevated at over $500 billion annually, even with import duties in place.
Some analysts say increased private sector investment in commercial palm oil production, as well as government support for smallholder farmers, is critical for Nigeria to boost output and become self-sufficient in palm oil. One promising initiative is the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline project, which aims to provide a stable gas supply to create an enabling environment for agro-industrial investments in the palm oil sector.
In the meantime, the import habit persists, with Malaysia, India, China, Kenya, the Netherlands, Japan, and Turkey emerging as Nigeria’s top sources for foreign palm oil.