What is palm oil?
It’s an edible vegetable oil that comes from the fruit of oil palm trees, the scientific name is Elaeis guineensis. Two types of oil can be produced; crude palm oil comes from squeezing the fleshy fruit, and palm kernel oil which comes from crushing the kernel, or the stone in the middle of the fruit. Oil palm trees are native to Africa.
Oil Palm Value in Nigeria
– The palm oil plants are found in most parts especially southern states of Nigeria. Usually, the production cycle of palm trees is 25 years. The ripened fruit which is bigger than the grape is growing around tree trunks, available for picking until turning dark red.
– In Nigeria, oil palm is an important tree because of the value of the crude palm oil, fronds, stems, and leaves. While the leaves provide brooms for tidying the environment, the kernel is a major source of red palm oil used for cooking. The seed is the source of palm kernel oil (PKO) used extensively in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.
Oil Palm Processing in Nigeria
The traditional palm oil extraction process is as follows:
After harvesting, people usually separate palm fruit manually. And then use hot water to make the palm fruit be soft. Through this step, palm oil will be more easier extract. Next the people will break the palm fruits into pulps, and then using the palm oil press machine to press the crude palm oil. After the above palm oil extraction process, we will get crude palm oil and the mixture of palm cake and fiber. Till this step does not mean the end of palm oil extraction process, we still need palm oil clarification step to make the palm oil clean and pure.
Other Processing of Oil Palm in Nigeria
– The residue obtained after extraction of oil is called palm kernel cake, which is used in livestock feed production. The sludge from palm oil processing is used for making traditional soap and fertilizer. The empty bunches and fiber that remain after oil extraction can also be used for mulching, as manure and direct source of fuel.
– The leaves of oil palm are used for making brooms and roofing materials. The thicker leaf stalks are used for walls of village huts. The bark of the palm frond is peeled and woven into baskets while the trunk (main stem) can be split and used as supporting frames in buildings. Asap tapped from the female flower is drunk as palm wine, which is a rich source of yeast. The palm wine can be allowed to ferment and then distilled into a local gin.
In the video below, we can see Palm oil production process #1
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Video resource: Discovery Industries