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Obaseki’s Visit to Saro Oil Palm Highlights Commitment to Economic Diversification, Employment Opportunities

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He described this development as a revolution that will extend to other areas of food crop production.

By Ogbebor Tony Ikponmwosa

In a significant stride towards economic development and job creation in Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki, has reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to large-scale investment in oil palm and other crop commodities. During a visit to the concession of Saro Oil Palm Limited in Evboesi community, Orhionmwon Local Government Area, Mr Obaseki emphasized the importance of the Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP) in cultivating approximately 120,000 hectares of estate farms, with an additional 80,000 to 100,000 hectares to be opened up for private farmers. The ambitious plan aims to bring about a total of approximately 200,000 hectares of land solely dedicated to oil palm, in addition to the cultivation of rubber, cocoa, and other products.

Governor Obaseki highlighted the immense employment opportunities such an undertaking would create, stating, “The implication is that you have about two to four people employed per hectare, for 200,000 hectares that will tell you how many jobs will be created. More importantly, with what’s going on in the Nigerian economy today, we have started the process of diversifying our economy and at this rate, in another few years, Nigeria will not have any business importing edible fats from other countries because we will have enough.”

Commending Saro Oil Palm for their significant contribution to oil palm estates’ development across the State, Governor Obaseki expressed his satisfaction with the realization of Edo as the oil palm hub in Nigeria. He stated, “I am very pleased that our dream of making Edo the oil palm hub is being realized, and the ambitions of the Edo State Oil Palm Programme are becoming a reality. We can recall when we came here last year, Saro had just gotten the first set of planting materials, today you can see that this is only the nursery, which is about 35 hectares, and they have enough materials to cultivate about 3,000 hectares of farmland of oil palm in their estate.”

Highlighting the sustainable approach adopted throughout the ESOPP initiative, the Governor emphasized that Nigerian companies are taking up the task of cultivating vast stretches of land, employing mechanization, and implementing world-class management practices. He described this development as a revolution that will extend to other areas of food crop production, setting new benchmarks for agricultural practices in the region and paving the way for advancements in various agricultural sectors.

Acknowledging the importance of collaborating with local communities for the oil palm industry’s advancement in the State, Governor Obaseki recognized the cooperative nature of these communities. He also addressed the presence of certain unpatriotic political elements who aim to gain political control by spreading discouragement and falsehoods among farmers and community members. Despite these challenges, Mr Obaseki praised the inherently peaceful and diligent farmers in Orhionmwon, affirming their commitment and hard work as essential to fostering a successful and harmonious partnership in the oil palm industry’s development.

Governor Obaseki further emphasized that Edo State is a learning school for other States in Nigeria in agricultural investment and declared the State’s readiness for collaboration and partnership with other states in the oil palm belt.

Mr. Emmanuel Omondeagbon, Community Outreach Coordinator/Data Management Officer, ESOPP, lauded the efforts made by the State Government in repositioning Edo as the home of sustainable oil palm development in Nigeria. He expressed his honour in accompanying the Governor during the visit to Saro Oil Palm and commended Saro Oil Palm for its remarkable contribution to oil palm estates’ development in the State.

Dr. Tunde Faturoti, the Project Director of Saro Oil Palm Limited, expressed gratitude for Governor Godwin Obaseki’s visit and appreciation for the State Government’s support through ESOPP. He further asserted Saro’s commitment to aligning with the program’s vision by providing employment, developing local communities, and respecting community rights and interests.

Governor Obaseki’s visit to Saro Oil Palm underlines the State’s dedication to economic diversification and job creation, solidifying Edo’s position as a key player in Nigeria’s agricultural landscape. The ambitious ESOPP initiative holds the potential to transform Edo State into the hub of oil palm production, benefiting the State’s economy, its communities and Nigeria as a whole.

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