Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc is set to add not less than 1,250 new jobs to the Edo State economy with the rollout of a smallholder farmers’ scheme in collaboration with 2SCALE, involving cooperatives, spanning four local government areas in the state, on the back of Governor Godwin Obaseki’s agricultural reforms.
A cross section of stakeholders on the project disclosed this in Benin City, at the company’s Diagnostic and Design Workshop for Okomu Oil Palm/Smallholder Partnership in collaboration with 2SCALE.
The company said it is expanding its production of quality crude palm oil from 40,000 tons annually to 80,000 tons from its own plantations and another 20,000 tons palm oil from the smallholders.
It added that it is expanding its current mill and building two new ones within the new estate, with a combined processing capacity of 135 metric tons per hour.
The four target local government areas for the project are Esan West LGA; Uhunmwode; Ovia South West, and Ovia North East where farmers are being contracted to generate 100,000MT palm fruits within the next 10 years, in line with the government’s programme for plantation farming and agriculture.
The initiative also includes the maintenance and rehabilitation of existing smallholder farms within a 50km radius of the expanded mills. Smallholder farmers are also expected to be clustered as cooperatives, with Terra Agric (TA) commodities as the aggregator.
President, Dewell Farmers Mmultipurpose Co-operative in Uhunmwode LGA near Okomu Extension II Mill, Johnbull Ehigie, said the development is heartwarming.
He expressed appreciation to the state government, 2SCALE and Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc., noting that the programme expresses Okomu Plc’s willingness to carry their host communities along in their operations.
President, Uyi Multipurpose Cooperative Society in Ovia North East, Oghogho I., said though he was initially sceptical about the project, he is now convinced with the pace of work.
Agricultural coordinator, Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc, Billy Ghansah, said the farmers will benefit from the programme through the provision of better technology and will improve the production base of smallholders.
He stated that smallholder farmers are key to the growth of the oil palm industry in Nigeria, adding that the programme will also benefit young people at the supply side and access to the market pyramid.
Head, Edo State Investment Promotion Office, Kelvin Uwaibi, assured all stakeholders that the Obaseki-led administration will continue to provide the enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the state.
He said it was refreshing that Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc was promoting inclusiveness as part of its business strategy.
“Aside the 1,250 direct jobs to be created, the four local government areas will also benefit from stimulation of the economy as well as indirect jobs,” he added.
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