With the commitment of about N69 billion by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP), smallholder farmers in the state have applauded the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration for creating the right environment to attract the investment.
A cross-section of the farmers, who spoke to journalists, in Benin City, the Edo State capital, said the investment would revolutionalize the oil palm sector in the state which will have a spiral effect on other aspects of the economy.
Mrs. Esosa Igbinoba, a farmer in the Okada axis of the state, said the investment would allow a number of the plantation owners to expand their hectarage and processing capacity, which will have a positive effect on smallholder farmers in the axis.
According to her, “We were excited when we heard that the CBN will be committing billions of naira for the development of the oil palm sector in Edo State. We already have two heavyweights in Nigeria’s oil palm sector, namely Okomu Plc and Presco Plc, in the state. The investment further opens up the field for more players.
“Particularly, we want to thank Governor Godwin Obaseki for making the land available for the plantation owners and smallholder farmers to access the fund. We are very confident that the investment will transform the state for the better.”
Barr. Emmanuel Usen said the state government has shown uncommon resolve in unlocking land assets to attract investment, noting, “We have experienced a new wave of the agricultural revolution in Edo State with the governor’s determined effort to create wealth and job opportunities for youths with the ESOPP. It is going to change a lot of things.
“We know that the investment will last for years, with each stage involving the employment of a number of people in the plantations. About 600,000 people are expected to benefit from the activities. We can’t ask for more than this, as long as our people are gainfully engaged.”