The Edo State Government has said that it is finalising plans to roll out phase two of the Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP), which will expand the development of farm estates in the Ovia axis of the state.
The governor said the phase II of the programme will commence in October, 2023.
He noted that the state government is willing to work with partners so as to improve on the lessons learnt from the first phase of the scheme.
According to him, “We also wanted to use this opportunity of having some of our investors who have worked very hard and tirelessly with us over the last two years to create Africa’s largest oil palm programme, the Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP). The first phase of that programme, which was focused on the Orhionmwon axis, has now been completed, while the Phase Two of the ESOPP initiative will be carried out in the Ovia axis, where we will be allocating degraded forest areas to reputable investors for the development of oil palm estates.
“In ESOPP Phase One, we have allocated almost 70,000 hectares of degraded forest land and fresh land to investors, many of whom have started their work in developing the nurseries, but we have not signed the final agreement with them; so we are using today’s opportunity for you to see us sign the negotiated ESOPP’s agreement with these investors.”
Governor Obaseki emphasised that the Edo State College of Agriculture has great significance, and acknowledged the crucial role investors play in driving its progress. He stated that it is the responsibility of the State Government to create an enabling environment and establish institutions, where agro-allied investors can draw skilled manpower from.
He added: “Today, we are here with our investors to come and meet the community, and begin the process of interacting with this school so that you can help us sustain this Institution that is so badly needed in the State. The other role of government is that now that we have given you land, and you have brought your money and technology, what about the people that will work for you? Like somebody said, many of these investors have to go to other countries to bring people, managers, and specialists to come and work on their farms in Nigeria. Why should that sort of thing happen? Because we have not trained our own people. That is why as a Government, we felt that let us put our money into building an institution like this, that will be attractive to young people, who want to make careers in agriculture.”