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Edo Records Over N50b Investments in Oil palm, Cassava, as Gov Obaseki Tours Investment Facilities, Farm by Agro-Allied Resources and Processing Nigeria

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  5. Edo Records Over N50b Investments in Oil palm, Cassava, as Gov Obaseki Tours Investment Facilities,…

Nosakhare Agbonigiarhuoyi

Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has expressed delight over the huge investment in oil palm, cassava cultivation and cassava processing plant by Agro-Allied Resources and Processing Nigeria (ARPN) Ltd, in Odighi Community, Ovia North East Local Government of Edo State.

Obaseki who took a tour around the investment facilities and farm by ARPN Ltd, alongside the management of the Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP), on Thursday January 25 2024, noted that the state is already benefiting from the investment, especially in the area of employment opportunities.

Obaseki remarked: “I joined the investors from the Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP) to visit the facilities and farm of one of the investors in the programme, Agro-Allied Resources and Processing Nigeria (ARPN)–Dufil Prima Foods Ltd, who, as you know, are the makers of the very popular brand, Indomie. They got land from the state government under this programme in 2019 to farm oil palm, and once they started with their oil palm investment, they then saw the need to diversify into cassava, because of the availability of cassava in the area.

“They have invested in excess of 25 billion naira in different investments. We are here this afternoon to see how far they have gone; what they have done, what challenges they have, and how, as government and sub-investors, we can collectively work with each other to reduce the risks and encourage more investments.”

Stressing on the benefits which accrue to the state from such investments, the Governor stated that from the agricultural and food sufficiency standpoints, the state is already benefitting from the food items that are being produced, alongside their multiplier effects and boost to the economy.

Obaseki said: “Beyond that, as a state, we have received quite substantial investments. Just imagine, only one of the investors has invested this amount. It shows you how much has come into the economy of Edo State, and explains why you see a lot of economic activities going on. This is direct investment from them. So, you can imagine the indirect investment; the multiplier effect, the people who are supplying them with other goods and services.

“Here alone, directly, from the farms and the factory, they employ over 1500 people. This is direct employment. This does not include transporters who bring in and take away materials for them. It does not include other farmers in the neighbourhood who produce and supply them. So, you can imagine, for every one job they create directly, there will be at least 4 to 5 other jobs that go with this investment. So, they are helping us reduce the challenge of unemployment. There is the benefit of bringing in more people into the area. They are helping us develop the state, open up space, expand the state, and create more opportunities.”

“Lastly, it signals what is possible and what could happen. So, it is Dufil today, it is Flour Mill tomorrow, which means that other people in the food business now know that Edo is one place you can come and invest and make a lot of returns, and grow your business. So, I believe those benefits are very clear to everybody; even our critics now understand why Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) matter”, the Governor added.

Responding to the concerns arising from the demand of enormous quantities of cassava in the factory and its effects on local consumption of by-products such as garri, Obaseki assured that the presence of the company will increase the productivity of farmers in the state.

He said: “First, the variety of cassava which they are using for industrial production is different from the one we eat. Secondly, they have now brought in more knowledge and expertise on how to grow cassava. So even for the variety we eat, they will now help us improve the yield and productivity of those our farmers who are cropping cassava for feeding.

“One of the things we have decided to do, working with the investors, is see how to encourage those people who are already farming cassava, on how to expand their production and plant variety for industrial use, because there will be a buyer waiting to take up whatever you produce.”

Obaseki added: “What is even more interesting for me, which I found out today, is that the by-products are not wasted. They are used as feedstock for other industries like the piggery industry. And I hear that those by-products are in very high demand. So, it is a chain. It is like a cycle. This is just the beginning but it is a very important and significant beginning.

On his part, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Agro-Allied Resources and Processing Nigeria (ARPN) Ltd, Khetan Madhukar, appreciated the Governor and his team for their support thus far in the realization of the project.

He said: “We are proud to say that we have very much benefitted from His Excellency and this programme, and the arrangement he and his team have given to us throughout our journey from 2019 till date.”

Speaking on the collaboration with and benefits derived from the investment by the host communities, Madhukar said: “We have about 17 communities in our vicinity. We are getting good support from them. And as his Excellency mentioned, direct employment is about 1,500 people. Out of that, over 600 people are working from the community through direct employment. First, we give them certain jobs; contracts to build our housing, road clearing work. So, they support us, and we get good support from them.

“At the same time, with the ESOPP programme, we have signed an agreement with them, of which we have done certain Corporate Social Responsibility programmes like road grading, solar installation programme, and in the long run, we will give educational scholarship to them.”

Commenting on security infrastructures for the investments, Madhukar noted: “As far as the question of security is concerned, we are in touch with the Chief Security Officer, Government House, on a continuous basis. Thankfully so far, we have not faced any problem. One or two incidents we faced, we immediately alerted the Chief Security Officer, Government House, and within 24 hours we got our problem resolved. After that we never faced any problem, because we have the local vigilante to protect us. We have our own security, and at the same time, we have the back bone support from His Excellency and his team. We alert them if there is any issue, and we get immediate response from them.”

Also speaking during the tour was the Chairman of the Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP), Mr. Rasheed Sarumi, who expressed satisfaction over the business-friendly environment of Edo State, noting that the Programme will collaborate with the government more to create an initiative which would benefit small farmers.

He said: “Edo State is a business destination. You tell the Governor something and he understands quickly, and you could see Dufil speak to this. There have been challenges. We face challenges everyday but the method and manner in which those challenges are overcome give us the confidence to continue to invest. His Excellency spoke about 25 billion being for the plant. The oil palm farm is in excess of 50 billion naira already invested.

“Four out of eight of the ESOPP investors are the biggest users of cassava in Nigeria. Three of them are domiciled in Edo State. Of course, you have seen one of them today. I also know that you have been to Greenhill where they make ethanol.

“We are now going to collaborate with the government more to be able to create a programme, now more importantly, around the small farmers, so that it can benefit them and there can be consistent supply for them and also for food.”

Also part of the Governor’s entourage were: Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Monday Osaigbovo; Council Chairman, Ovia North East Local Government, Hon. Collins Ogbewe, amongst others.

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