Lies About Oil Palm Farming-Part 1

Today, I will be clearing some common misconception concerning oil palm plantation business. These facts will be highlighted based purely on practical farming experience in Nigeria.

Be warned! Do not let anyone confuse you with the the data from Malaysia or Indonesia. Their climate favours oil palm cultivation better than Nigeria.

Of course, they are also very, very good with the management practices. The point is, that will not be a fair basis for our analysis.

This is not meant to discourage, but to get you prepared for the task ahead. It is interesting and rewarding, but requires your commitment and dedication, or else, you may have your fingers burnt.

  1. There is a variety that fruits in 2 years

I have heard that many times from a group that claims that there is a new oil palm hybrid that matures earlier and gives more tonnage per hectare.

As far as I know, the best oil palm variety to plant is still the tenera hybrid.

The truth however is, research is ongoing to enhance several factors like extraction rate, tons per hectare, bunch size, oil to bunch ratio, disease resistance, etc

And with good management practices, tenera can even fruit at 24 months or 2 years, but the quality and quantity of bunches will not be expected to be high.

So, do not let anyone play smart on you with the promise of getting you a new variety. It is still tenera. Remember, your climate and management practices matter. These determine the degree of result to expect.

2. I can plant seedlings from the wild and still get result
Many consider it a waste of money and time to pay for seed while they can just get seedlings from an existing tenera plantation for free and plant.

What they do is to locate a farm with huge production of bunches and quality oil, select young seedlings, uproot, and nurse in a polybag.

This is now nurtured to size and transferred to the field for planting.

In that case, seeds are not paid for and pre-nursery expenses are out of the way. Is that not a smart idea?

Any danger in that? Should that be considered?

While this may seem to be a wonderful idea in term of cost and time saving, it is not actually a professional practice for a commercial farm. Why?

I quite agree that you can easily pick a tenera seed, no doubt. But will planting that seed give back same tenera to you 100%? That is impossible. Why?

The tenera you have is a product of crossing dura and pisifera.

The moment tenera is planted, what you get at the end will be a combination of tenera, dura, and pisifera.

So, if you plant the tenera seed and perhaps half of your farm ends up producing tenera, while the other half are pisifera and dura, have you not wasted quite a lot of money?

Let me break it down further…

In the table below, an example is given for a plantation with good quality hybrid planting materials (Plantation 1) and two plantations with non-hybrid materials (Plantations 2 and 3).

This example clearly shows why mills prefer tenera bunches.

Table 1: Oil production in plantations with three types of planting materials

Plantation 1 Plantation 2 Plantation 3
Planting material: 100% tenera 50% tenera
25% dura
25% pisifera

100% dura
Situation: Good quality certified seeds Seeds taken and planted from the plantation
Only dura seeds planted
FFB yield (t/ha) 24.0 18.0 24.0
Oil from tenera (23%) 5.5 2.8 0.0
Oil from dura (16%) 0.0 1.0 3.8
Oil from pisifera (sterile) 0.0 0.0 0.0
TOTAL oil yield (t/ha) 5.5 3.8
Selling price for farmers1 3600 US$/ha 2700 US$/ha 3600 US$/ha
Selling price for mill2 4290 US$/ha 2964 US$/ha 2964 US$/ha
Profit for mill 690 US$/ha 264 US$/ha -636 US$/ha

1) FFB price = 150 US$/tonne;

2) CPO price = 780 US$/tonne


  • Tenera fruits contain about 30 percent more oil than dura fruits (see Plantation 1 and Plantation 3).
  • Pisifera palms usually don’t produce any fruit at all (they are sterile), so the FFB yield is generally zero. That explains why Plantation 2 has less FFB yield.
  • All plantations require a similar amount of fertiliser and labour, so these costs remain the same across all plantations.
  • Plantation 1, with 100 percent tenera palms, clearly produces significantly more oil than the other two plantations!

What can we deduce from the above analysis? Selecting seeds to plant from the plantation is like being penny wise, pounds foolish.

Each harvest will always have a shortage compared to when the right seeds are planted.

Now multiple that loss by the number of harvest you will do in 25 years. If you harvest twice a month, you will harvest 600 times in 25 years. If your loss per harvest is just $100, you would have lost $60,000.

Think about that. Always go for quality seed. It will pay off multiple times.

I believe you must have gained something from this post.

If yes, kindly drop your comment in the comment box below.

If you have any question, feel free to use the same box or send me a private mail via

Expect the other parts soon.

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