On the back of nuanced reforms by the Governor Godwin Obaseki administration in the agriculture sector, Fayus Inc., a major investor under the Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP), has commenced harvest on one of its plantations measuring 1,200 hectares in Ewan-ISI in Uhunwonde Local Government Area of Edo State.

The feat is a major boost for the N69bn oil palm development programme which has been described as the largest oil palm development project in Africa by industry watchers.

The ESOPP is an initiative of the Edo State Government in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Plantation Owners Forum of Nigeria, to de-risk investment in oil palm development in the state.

Acting Team Lead, Edo State Oil Palm Programme Office, Churchill Oboh, talking with journalists, noted that the ESOPP initiative has been a resounding success, as about nine plantations are at various stages of development in-line with RSPO Principles & Criteria in the state, with some of them way past the nursery stage.

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Oboh said: “We are indeed recording good success with the ESOPP. A lot of the investors are advancing on their projects. Some of them have completed their nursery development and are putting necessary modalities in place to utilise the dry season for land clearing to enable planting exercise to commence upon the approvals from relevant local and international institutions as mandated by RSPO.

“Fayus Inc., which acquired an old plantation in addition to a new site, has commenced harvesting fruits that were planted about four years ago. So, the progress has been rapid.”

He noted that the ESOPP initiative will increase Edo’s share of oil palm export and boost foreign exchange earnings, while providing jobs for youths in the state.