Investors in oil palm estate farming in Edo State have engaged communities in the state on practices to ensure sustainable oil palm production under the Community Outreach and Engagement Programme (COEP).
The Managing Consultant and Chief Executive Officer of Foremost Development Services Limited, Fatai Afolabi, said the Community Outreach and Engagement Programme (COEP) was to engage stakeholders at all levels of society within palm oil-producing countries.
Afolabi also added that the programme will be organised in six oil palm-producing local government areas in the state.
He listed the six local government areas to include Ikpoba Okha, Ovia South-West, Ovia North-East, Ovia South-West, Uhunmwonde, Owan West and Orhionmwon.
According to him, over 80 smallholder oil palm farmers, elders, youths, women and community-based organisations (CBO) were trained on the principles and criteria of Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
Noting that the programme ensures an equitable playing field for all stakeholders in the palm oil industry, he said that it focuses on the three impact goals of prosperity, people and planet.
He said the participants were drawn from Madagbayo, Gbelebu, Udo and Maroghionba (AT&P) communities in the Ovia South-West local government area.
“With this training RSPO wishes to educate the communities and other stakeholders in the palm oil supply chain on the standards to adopt for sustainable palm oil production. It also wishes to raise the level of awareness of the people on the obligations of the communities and companies producing sustainable palm oil on matters relating to their rights, livelihoods, social and environmental management, and protection of communities and employees.
“In all of these, the overall aim of RSPO is to make sustainable palm oil the norm”, he said.
Afolabi explained that the choice of Edo State for the COEP was a result of its being the major producer of sustainable palm oil in Nigeria.
He added that the Edo State Government has also subscribed to the production of sustainable palm oil through the application of the RSPO standards.
According to him, the state government has also mandated investors through the Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP) to do the same in order to achieve a palm oil sector that is sustainable.