asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies to what extent modern methods for the extraction of palm oil in West African Colonies has progressed in respect of volume and value during the past five years; and what measures are being taken to secure machinery for this purpose and the substitution of modern for primitive methods.
Mr. Creech Jones:
There are no statistics to show how much West African palm oil is produced by modern methods, but the introduction of hand presses and pioneer oil mills has contributed to rising production and to improvement in quality. In 1944, when grading was, introduced, 51 per cent. of Nigerian palm oil purchased for export was Grade I; by 1947, the figure had risen to 63 per cent. Grade I oil at present earns the producer a premium of £2 5s. per ton over Grade II.
There were 1,081 hand presses in use-in Nigeria at the end of 1946 and their number is being steadily increased. There are at present four Government pioneer oil mills working in Nigeria. A further mill is to open this month; four more are under construction; machinery for an additional 15 on order is beginning to arrive.
Will my right hon. Friend look into the matter of providing motor transport for the collection of palm kernels in order to avoid the enormous waste of time and energy involved in the present method of carrying them to the mills by native labour?