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Ikale oil palm production

Ikaleland, the Urhobo, and Oil Palm Production

Ikale land is a cluster of few territories in now Ondo state, bordering with Ilaje. The production of oil was indigenous to the people of Ikaleland. What actually brought them to the historical limelight was their oil palm production. 

Oil palm production contributed to the growth of Ikale politically, socio-culturally, economically, the whole caboodle.

This work seeks to examine the contributions of oil palm production to Ikaleland from 1900-60, that is when Ikale was under colonial rule.

New Phase of the History

Oil palm production opened a new phase of the history of the peopling of Ikaleland. This land thrived economically during this period and this summoned the attention of researchers and scholars, which later brought Ikaleland to the limelight. Notably, the oil palm production led to an influx of people into Ikaleland.

They were harvesting palm trees that were short and dwarf prior to the coming of the Urhobo migrants into Ikale land.

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Red Palm Oil. Cr: BPDP Sawit

The involvement of the Urhobos changed the production from subsistent to commercial, and this later summoned the attention of the British, who needed palm oil for their industries at home.

Subsequently, oil palm heightened the relationship between the Urhobo, Ikale people, and the British merchants, though this later went awry.

Source of Food Condiments

Oil palm served as a source of food condiments for the people. Oil is used for cooking, especially using oil palm to eat yam.

It also served as an ingredient for soap making, and a source of light (Atupa, for an instance here). The British also needed oil palm for lubricant for their industrial machines and light.

Source of Food Condiments

The needs of the British made them build operative firms in Ikale district during the colonial era.

This led to modernization (not civilization as the people were already civilized before the coming of the Europeans) of Ikaleland as many modern buildings were built for public services.

For an instance, according to Dr. Faboyede, the provision of cottage hospitals by British officials thus led to enhancement in good health and living standard of the people.

Landlord-tenant Relationship

Furthermore, production was a factor responsible for the change of landlord-tenant relationships in Ikaleland. With the coming of the Urhobo farmers into Ikaleland. It led to the growth of the tenant-servant relationship which later resulted to land wanton by the Urhobo migrants.

Urhobo Farmers and the Bush Entry

Many of the Urhobo farmers became labourers under the “Bush Entry” arrangement with an agreed static payment, though the people later became recalcitrant, and overambitious in Ikale, as they refused to pay rent as time went on.

Likewise, the British kept exploiting the people because of their inability to acclimatize to the environment, the production made the British sturdy in pursuing their imperial ambition in Ikale land.

Social Importance of Palm Trees

In addition, the social importance of palm trees in this land can never be jettisoned. The palm tree sap (emu Oguro) was drinkable and this performed some roles in sociocultural settings.

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Palm Wine – Traditional West African …

Emu (palm wine) was used in making traditional prayers and also served as a source of medication. It fostered inter-group relations, by strengthening brotherhood.

Lastly, it also served as an employment opportunity and became the product of paying tributes to the monarch.


In conclusion, as a result of this, the British established their parasitic taxation policy on the peopling of Ikaleland.

Oil palm production contributed significantly to the history as well as socio-cultural, economic, political, and religious superstructures of Ikaleland from 1900-60.

Citation: Faforiji Tadese. Oil Palm Production and Ikaleland. (April 2021). Tadexprof (Archived) Retrieved at


  • Lecture Note from Dr. Faboyede’s classes, the department of history and international studies, Adekunela Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State, Nigeria.
  • The Urhobo in Ondo State, Nigeria – jstor
  • Analysis of palm oil value chain in Ondo state, Nigeria. Available here

Tadese Faforiji

I am Tadese Faforiji, a history student of the prestigious Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State- 21st-century University, properly called. I am a blogger and an avid writer.