The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said his administration will cultivate over 100,000 hectares of oil palm plantation in the state within the next three years.
He said the state government is latching onto agriculture to diversify and grow the state’s economy, attain food sufficiency, drive job creation and improve the lives of Edo people.
The governor said this in Benin City while inspecting the delivery of mechanised farm equipment under the state’s Agripreneur programme.
Obaseki, who said his administration has created over 80 percent of the 200,000 jobs promised during his electioneering campaign, reaffirmed his government’s commitment to food security.
He said, “For us in Edo State, we have a culture of agriculture and we are ready to bring it back as we have started to invest in the sector to empower our farmers. Distraction is coming from all sides but we will not be distracted as this administration can account for all the money spent, while those yet to be spent are intact in the bank.
“In the last two years, we have not spent up to 40 percent of the amount needed to be spent on agriculture. We are fast tracking the construction and development of the College of Agriculture to train extension workers to support farmers and help them improve their yield.
“We have done a lot of land preparation; we will do more because we have started early. We would have a minimum of two cropping seasons for our grains this year. The state with its partners and investors is setting up the oil palm implementation Office next month. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is giving us support of about N70billion and in the next 2 to 3 years, we would be cultivating up to about 100,000 hectares of oil palm.”
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security Programme, Prince Joe Okogie thanked the governor for the initiative, noting that the programme will help the farmers contribute their quota to the development of the state.
“These equipment were not here when we started our production last year; we went to as far as Kaduna and Kano to get these equipment, which include nine tractors, combined harvesters, boom sprayers, planters, among others.”
A rice farmer from Agenebode, Mr. Omoaka Paul, who was given a cheque of the profits he made during the course of the farming season, thanked the Obaseki-led administration for the initiative, which he said has put smiles on farmers faces.
He called on President Muhammadu Buhari not to open the borders as the closure is helping farmers make more profit.