Efforts of the Edo State Government to grow her rubber stock and boost her non-oil receipts with the 2,500-hectare rubber plantation in Urhonigbe, in Orhionmwon Local Government Area and other agricultural initiatives, have received the support of the Federal Government.
Speaking at a National Workshop on “Repositioning Nigeria Rubber for Competitiveness,” organised by the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), in Benin City, the Edo State capital, Executive Director, NEPC, Olusegun Awolowo, said the workshop was organised to create a synergy among rubber processors, producers and exporters in Edo State and provide them with a platform to deliberate on how local investors can benefit from competing in the international market.
Awolowo who was represented by Samuel Oyedipo, said that local farmers have a lot to benefit from rubber cultivation and production. “Nigeria’s current production is estimated at 127,000 metric tons annually. This makes us the largest producers in Africa and seventh globally after others, including Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Export earnings from rubber cultivation and production annually stand at $37 million.”
Awolowo added that Edo was reputed as the largest producer of natural rubber in Nigeria in the past and was famous for processing and marketing rubber in West Africa. He said, “If farmers improve their activities to grow rubber using improved seedlings, they stand to benefit more. NEPC is ready to intervene by providing farmers with 5,000 rubber seedlings.”
In his response, the Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security Programme, Mr. Joseph Okojie, noted, “As parts of the plans by the state government to revive rubber cultivation, we are partnering with the Federal Government to encourage the cultivation of rubber plantation.”
“This workshop is timely as rubber cultivation and production which serve as a major source of revenue in past was neglected for crude oil. We have identified the need to improve rubber production to grow the economy, create prosperity for our people and reclaim its pride of place.”
“We intend to create employment and increase our revenue drive through rubber cultivation and production. We are aligning with the Federal Government’s intent to revive rubber cultivation in Nigeria and have committed 2,500 hectares of land for rubber,” Obaseki added.
Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mr. Monday Osaigbovo said, “A 2,500-hectare rubber plantation has been cultivated by the Edo State Government at Urhonigbe. It is part of Governor Obaseki-led administration’s agricultural initiatives to grow the non-oil sector and contribute to country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”