The Managing Director, PZ Wilmar Limited, Mr. Santosh Pillai, said Nigeria could still be a world leader in palm oil production and export if the right steps were taken.

Pillai spoke at the presentation of the ISO 22000:2005 certificate to the company in Lagos by Bureau Veritas.

He said that a joint venture between PZ Cussons and Wilmar of Singapore had commenced exploration of opportunities in the agro-allied industry with the aim of kick-starting the oil palm revolution.

The JV is expected to deliver Foreign Direct Investment of $650m as well as backward integration through upstream investment in plantations, refining and downstream distribution.

“The core mandate of the JV is to develop local capacity of palm oil production through investment in plantations and construction of a 1,200-tonne per day refinery plus associated plant, producing a range of branded products, including edible oils and nutritional spreads,” Pillai said.

He added that in the last few years, PZ Wilmar had acquired three old plantations and a relatively new one, all in Cross River State, to make up 26,500 hectares plantations.

“Nigeria has the comparative advantage to be the world leader in oil palm production and export,” he said.

According him, with the ISO certificate, the company becomes the country’s first palm oil processing, packaging and distribution firm to complete the certification process.

“We are a world-class company. That is why we went for a world-class certification. With this feat, we have affirmed our commitment to delivering safe and wholesome products for the well-being of consumers through our leading brands of vegetable oil, Mamador and Devon Kings,” he said.

The ISO 22000:2005 is an international standard on food safety that confirms that a company’s supply chain is under control and that all products from the factory to value chain and the consumers have safety qualities.

The Technical Manager, PZ Wilmar, Mr. Nana Damoah, said beyond quality assurance, safety of food must be taken seriously.

“The ISO 22000:2005 gives us food safety, which shows that our products are guaranteed and can be trusted,” he said.