Edo State governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has said that his administration plans to earmark not less than 200,000 hectares of land for oil palm plantation to diversify the state’s economy and create jobs for its teeming youth population.
Obaseki disclosed this during the public presentation and launching of the Nigeria National Interpretation of Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in Benin City, Edo State.
He said, “The goal for the palm oil industry is to have not less than 200,000 hectares of organised oil palm plantation by the end of my administration. We are ready to fulfill our commitment made during the commissioning of the extension II project for Okomu Oil Palm Company, to pioneer the establishment of Oil Palm Council of Nigeria.”
According to him, the state is committed to the principles of the RSPO, noting that, “Adopting the principle is critical in ensuring the achievement of the goal to position the state as the hub of palm oil production in the country. We will develop a master plan to deepen and re-enforce some of the RSPO principles with specific benchmark.”
He said as part of the state’s plans to ensure RSPO compliance, the state government has partnered with Pro-Forest to audit the forest assets in the state. “We have set-up a technical committee to review the report and work towards establishing a forestry commission for the state,” he said.
Obaseki commended Okomu Oil Palm Plc for its collaboration with the state to train 50 students from the College of Agriculture, Iguorhiakhi for a period of three months.
“The college was closed to allow for a comprehensive revamp. We require support of stakeholders to drive investment, economic growth and wealth creation through agriculture. The support will also assist the state to build a College of Education that will be responsible for providing needed technical manpower for the sector,” he noted.
Chief executive officer, SIAT Group, Gert Vandersmissen, said the oil palm sector in the state, if properly positioned, would be among the most sustainable in the world.
According to him, “This will be sustainable for large estate development. Oil palm is important as none of its products is a waste. It also has the capacity to create wealth for farmers and serve as a means through which poverty can be reduced.”