No fewer than 200,000 jobs will be created following a signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), worth nearly N100 billion, with seven oil palm investors, under the Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP) Investors Group.
Governor Godwin Obaseki signed the agreement on Wednesday, saying the investment is to boost oil palm production and rejuvenate the sector for global competitiveness.
Some of the investors include: Agroallied Resources Limited, Agripalm Limited, Saturn Farms Limited; Saro Oil Palm; Fayus Nigeria Limited and Farm Forte Agro Allied Limited.
Obaseki who reassured that his government will sustain reforms and policies to ensure an enabling environment for businesses to thrive, thanked the investors for their interest in the state.
The governor said: “We thank all of you for the interest you have in partnering with us in Edo state, to fulfill our mandate under the ESOPP, designed to boost agricultural production in Edo state.
“This journey started a while ago, but today’s event marked the beginning where allottees will take over the plots allocated to them to cultivate oil palm in the state.
“This exercise today, which involves the signing of 45,000 hectares of land to about seven companies for the purpose of cultivation of oil palm, will make Edo one of the largest, if not the largest oil producing state in Nigeria. This is the first phase. And the second phase, which we hope will be concluded this year, will be about the same size of land.
“At the end of this programme, when our investors may have cultivated over 100,000 hectares, we would be providing over 200,000 jobs at a minimum. It will make the state more competitive in the oil palm production business.
“Our focus is to ensure that Nigeria becomes self-sufficient in no distant time, in oil production,” he said.
The governor continued: “We have been deliberate to ensure that we go through all the processes required, according to international best practices, to make sure that every oil palm cultivated here in Edo is acceptable internationally.
“As a government, we will continue to create the enabling environment for your businesses to yield good returns and will do our best to provide infrastructure like access roads. We want to inform you that the main entry leading to your farm, the Benin-Abraka Road, has been awarded and construction will commence immediately.
“We want to use this opportunity to thank the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), for supporting agricultural development in Nigeria, particularly the oil palm programme and assure you that the almost N100 billion that you will be spending on this investment will be one that will yield for you the required returns.”
On his part, the Protem Chairman, ESOPP Investors Group, Rasheed Sarumi, congratulated the governor for his vision in making the state an investment destination.
He said: “We thank the governor for his vision in making sure that Edo state remains the nucleus of oil palm production in Nigeria, not only in production but processing.
“This will create room for other allied industries to leverage and deliver the dividends to Edo people in terms of empowerment, jobs and get the host communities to participate in modern agriculture, which investors will bring to enhance their livelihoods.”
Other top government officials who witnessed the signing of the deal at the Government House in Benin City include; Secretary to the State Government, Barr. Osarodion Ogie and Edo State Solicitor General, Oluwole Iyamu SAN, among others.