The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has trained no fewer than 500 farmers, government officials, media practitioners, Civil Society Organizations, Non- Governmental Organisations in Edo State on the production of sustainable palm oil.

The RSPO is a global multi-stakeholder initiative on sustainable palm oil, organising a 14-month capacity building programme for stakeholders in the palm oil sub sector in Edo State.

In his address to round off the first stage of the training on RSPO Principles and Criteria 2018, Fatai Afolabi, Managing Consultant and Chief Executive Officer, Foremost Development Services Ltd (FDS), said a total of 31 communities in six local government areas in the state and other relevant stakeholders benefitted from the capacity building programme.

Afolabi, who said Foremost Development Services Ltd (FDS) is an intermediary organisation for RSPO listed the local governments that benefitted from the capacity building programme to include Ikpoba Okha, Ovia Southwest, Ovia Northeast, Uhunmwonde, Owan West and Orhionmwon.

He added that over 40 persons drawn from the Civil Society Organisations, non-governmental organisations, media practitioners, officials of the Edo State Government, representatives of palm oil producing companies in the state also benefitted from the training programme.

He said the beneficiaries were trained on RSPO Principles and Criteria 2018 while the second phase of the training slated for between September 2023 and February 2024 will be on Dispute Resolution/Grievance Mechanisms.

Afolabi said the RSPO principles and criteria 2018 is made up of seven principles, 41 criteria and 163 indicators.

He noted that the major objective of the programme is to ensure that palm oil is produced and traded in a manner that is environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable.

He posited that when RSPO is well-planned and implemented, oil palm establishments have the potential to improve rural livelihoods, resulting in local and national development and maintaining critical environmental values.

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The Managing Consultant and Chief Executive Officer, Foremost Development Services Ltd (FDS), added that Edo State was chosen to kick start the Community Outreach and Engagement Programme (COEP) because of its foremost position in palm oil production in Nigeria.

Furthermore, Presco Plc, Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc who are RSPO certified members have a cumulative land holding of over 70,000 hectares in Edo State, Nigeria.

“In addition to this, the Edo State Government under Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP) has allocated about 65,000 hectares of land to nine oil palm investors who have been mandated to produce sustainable palm oil.

“It is estimated that no less than 100 communities will therefore be involved in the production of sustainable palm oil, RSPO has therefore chosen Edo State for the kick-off of COEP in Nigeria,” he said.

In her remarks, Marie Rosine Nsegbe, RSPO, Assurance Manager (Africa) said the capacity building was geared towards enhancing the capacity of all stakeholders in the palm oil sub sector.

Nsegbe, said there are over 5000 registered RSPO members across the globe, but out of that, only four members are certified to be producing sustainable palm oil in Nigeria.

She said out of the four, two of the members are in Edo State. She listed the members to include Presco Plc (Edo State), Okomu Oil palm Company (Edo State), Biase Plantation Limited (Cross River State) and Siat Nigeria Limited (Rivers State).

Nsegbe, however, appealed to those that are yet to be RSPO certified to do so to be able to reap the benefits of the programme.