BENIN CITY – The Managing Director of the Edo State Investment Promotion Office (ESIPO), Mr. Kelvin Uwaibi has said that the state government plans to expand natural rubber production by one hundred thousand hectares.

He said is part of the sate government efforts to realise its economic revolution and create wealth and job opportunities for its people.

Managing Director of the Edo State Investment Promotion Office (ESIPO), Mr. Kelvin Uwaibi disclosed this after a meeting by the Rubber Development Strategy Committee.

The committee was inaugurated by the state Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki in July 2021.

Addressing journalists after the meeting, Uwaibi who is the secretary of the committee noted that the strategy document being developed is expected to be able to revolutionize the rubber sector in the state and protect the forest through agro-forest practices.

According to him, “The rubber strategy committee is working hard to be able to turn in as soon as possible, a good strategy document that will make the state attractive to investors in rubber production.

“Part of the plan is to see that we can expand rubber production to about 100,000/hectares soon.

“As you know, to be able to make any positive changes in any industry, you need a policy document. So, the committee has been working assiduously to see that the document is out as soon as possible.

“As you know, we have over 49 items that can be produced from rubber which include surgical, domestic and industrial gloves, tyres, tubes, car bumpers, livestock feeds and many others.

“Looking at forest today, we can actually grow the rubber sector as another avenue to be able to get foreign exchange. Most of the rubbers you see today are exportable. So, we want to be able to export rubber from Edo State.”

Talking about the next steps as the committee progresses, Mr. Uwaibi noted that there was going to be a stakeholders’ engagement which will bring together all stakeholders in the rubber industry to have the opportunity to validate the draft document before presenting final copy to the Governor.

President of National Rubber Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NIRPPAN), Otumba Prince Igbmosum P.I, said that Edo State is repositioning herself to regain her lost glory in the rubber industry.

He said that rubber production in the state started in 1906 in Sokpoba, but started dwindling when the crude oil was discovered, hence it was no longer attractive enough to ensure rubber development in the state.

According to him, “we are positioned now to see rubber from a different perspective, considering all the bye-products in the value chain and the return on investment that is found in rubber which is difficult to find in any other crop.

“So, Edo State is positioning herself to regain her past glory in this sub-sector and we are all collaborating to ensure that this is achieved because we know it will give a lot of job opportunities to reduce youths restiveness, create opportunities for women to play in the industry and give hope to those who are already in the industry.”

The Director of Research, Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria, Dr. Timothy Esekhade also noted that the strategy, when finalized would help to expand the industry, adding that the committee is making good progress with the implementation strategy.

The meeting was also attended by the Chairman of the committee, Enotie Ogbebor; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Aikhuomonbhogbe Peter; the functioning General Manager, Tree Crop Unit, Ministry of Agriculture, Mrs. Egiebor. I.Khadijat; Tech. Chairman NARPPAN Pastor Emmanuel Eke; C.A.E, RENL, Gabriel Amadin and Adaba Habib, Investment Promotion and Global Outreach, ESIPO.