The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has has stated that his government will partner with other governors of the states with palm oil production to move for the establishment of a national oil palm council.
He said that the council, in conjuction with the private sectors would foster the promotion of reforms aimed at improving the Nigeria’s oil palm sector.
The governor said this in a statement at the commissioning of the Extension II plantation of Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc, measuring 12,076 hectares, in the Ovia North-East Local Government Area of the state on Wednesday.
The governor said, “For us as a government, we believe that oil palm is indigenous to the state and we want to take full advantage of this natural endowment. As I have said in several forums, we in Edo State believe that oil palm is our crude oil and we want to take full advantage of this potential.
“I will be collaborating with my brother governors from Ondo and Cross River (states) to work with the oil palm industry, particularly with the association, Plantation Owners Forum of Nigeria, and the Federal Government to create an oil palm council for Nigeria.”
He also noted that the state government was taking steps to ensure that it created a master plan not only for palm oil but also for agricultural production in the state.
While expressing support for Okomu’s expansion plan, Obaseki said that his administration would work with the company to produce raw materials for firms that would operate in the Benin industrial park.
The Chairman, Board of Directors, Mr. Gbenga Oyebode, stated that the company had begun plans for the construction of a 30-tonne oil mill at an estimated cost of $50m.
Oyebode said, when completed, the new mill would produce 18,000 metric tonnes of crude palm oil per annum.
He also said that the company was open to the state government’s vision to make Edo an agribusiness hub.
The Managing Director of the company, Dr. Graham Hefer, explained that the new extension comprised 11,416 hectares of land, including 660 hectares of cultivated palm, in the Ovia North-East and Uhunmwonde Local Government areas of the state.
Hefer stated that the company operated two 30 tonne-per-hour oil mills, while the construction of another pair with the same capacity had commenced and would be inaugurated in 2020.