By S. OLANREWAJU DISU
One of the greatest gifts of nature to the tropical and sub-tropical areas of the earth is the palm-tree family. Palm-trees belong to a family called “palmae”. They are monocotyledonous trees with usually a simple stem and terminal crown of large, fan-shaped leaves. The oil-palm[Elais guineenis] is an oil crop which belongs to this palm-tree family. We obtain oil and kernel from it, and these are of importance commercially.
Palm oil is an edible fat obtained from the flesh of the fruit of the oil-palm – called the palm kernel. In Lagos Area markets, the palm-oil is available all-year either on whole-sale or retail basis. As a matter of fact, to several families in the metropolis, their household or kitchen’s food items are inchoate without the palm-oil. The palm-oil is life!
Both domestically and industrially, the palm-oil is very useful. Palm-oil is used in soap-making, manufacture of candles and lubricants. Palm-oil is used in the making of margarine. In Lagos State, there is a big firm whose factories produce margarine on a very large scale.Many whole-sale palm-oil sellers derive huge profits by supplying palm-oil to these factories and others that use palm-oil as industrial raw material.
Residents flock into and purchase palm-oil in Lagos Area Markets on a continous daily basis for diverse reasons: home-cooking, frying of bean-cakes near bus-stops for itinerant workers, frying of fish and meat as a means of preserving them for non-immediate use, ceremonies, festivals,etc.
Palm-oil is sold in all shapes and sizes of glass-bottles and plastic jars that range from 2cl to 5liters on retail basis at all our urban and sub-urban markets on retail basis. Whole-sale of palm-oil is done in selected markets-e.g. the “Daleko Market” and the “Mushin Market”. At these markets, the containers used are large 200 liter metal drums. These large drums are used ab initio to bring down palm oil from various palm-oil making factories- and they are many- in the hinterland into Lagos State. The above – named markets are the chief depots for palm-oil delivery. Needless to say, delivery of palm-oil as an industrial raw-material to factories is usually effected in large 200L drums. Commercial transporters, using long-haulage trucks, make brisk business delivering palm-oil to factories.
Palm-oil is sometimes used in the pharmaceutical industry as a component part of suppositories. Also, palm-oil is medically used as an antidote in food-poisoning or accidental swallowing of chemicals.Hence, the palm-oil, derived from the fruit of the palm-tree, is a very important agricultural product in our markets in Lagos Metropolitan Area. A wonderful gift of nature, indeed!
PHOTO’S : Bottled palm-oil on retail sale at the urban “ Iyana- Ejigbo” market.