By Isaac Olamikan, Senior Correspondent, Benin
Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele will on Tuesday launch the Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP), a N69bn intervention programme to rejuvenate the oil palm sector in the state for global competitiveness.
The event, organised by the Edo State Government, the CBN and the Plantation Owners Forum of Nigeria (POFON), will hold on Tuesday, December 17, at Protea Hotel, Benin City, and provide a platform to engage with stakeholders in the oil palm business.
In a statement, Special Adviser to the Edo State Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, said the ESOPP is an innovative platform intended to harness the state’s rich oil palm heritage to diversify the local economy, create jobs, and increase productivity in a sustainable manner.
He said a total of 120,000 hectares is planned for the programme, but the first phase would cover an area of 51,000 hectares, noting that funding from the CBN would constitute over 70 per cent of the intervention, which would be targeted at estate owners and smallholder farmers, given at single-digit interest rate with 5-7 years moratorium.
Some investors in the ESOPP expected at the parley include Dangote Dansa Farms; Bruk Plantations Edo Limited; Saro Africa; FDGB Group (Malaysians); Ella Lakes Plc; De United Foods Industries (Dufil); Platform Capital; WACOT Limited; TGI Group; A and Hatman Ltd; Saturn Farms (Nosak Group); Agro allied Business (FMN); Farmforte Agro Allied Solutions and Masini Limited.
Osagie added that the Obaseki-led administration is keen on diversifying the state’s economic base, with agriculture as a major lynch-pin, adding that the programme adds to the numerous other reforms implemented in the agriculture sector to boost food security.
He said the unique feature of the programme is the ability to create a catalytic effect in the food, pharmaceutical, beauty and cosmetics sectors of the state, as these sectors utilise produce from the plantation as raw material for their products.