Migrant farmers who voluntarily relocated from Okomu Oil Palm’s Extension One concession in Ovia Southwest LGA of Edo State are now beneficiaries of varying sums of money to re-establish their livelihoods.
The farmers used to occupy three camps namely; Sunday Camp, Olomu Camp and Oluwo Camp. At the final disengagement ceremony held on Tuesday, 13 August 2013, the company disbursed a total sum of N11.5 million to the 140 farmers involved. Depending on their holdings, the farmers collected a once off ex-gratia payment varying from N30, 000 to N260, 000.
The ceremony was observed by the Honourable Commissioner for Agriculture; Hon. Abdul Oroh as well as other government representatives from the Ministries of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Land and Survey. The farmers had encroached on the company’s land and planted crops like cocoa, cassava, and plantains.
According to the Managing Director of the company, Dr Graham Hefer, the company had served the farmers a final notice to harvest their crops and vacate the land since 2009.
“But we knew it was not going to be easy, so we started a process of engagement with them in 2010”. Upon passionate request by the farmers, the company granted them time extension twice.
At the final disengagement ceremony, Dr Hefer explained to the farmers that “What we are witnessing today is a demonstration of the corporate social responsibility of the Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc.
” In spite of the fact that the land belongs to the company, we have not applied the ‘winner takes all’ approach. Rather we adopted a ‘win-win’ option of amicable settlement. He thanked the farmers for conducting themselves peacefully and wished them success in their various endeavours