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Edo establishes land bank to promote agric investments

Agric sector loans drop to lowest in two years

Following several indications by investors to invest in the agricultural sector, the Edo State government says it has created a land bank to promote investment in the agricultural sector.

The bank will also enable the state to identify lands that are suitable for the cultivation of various agricultural products in the 18 local government areas in the state.

BusinessDay reports that the investors’ indication stemmed from the 2012 Edo State Agribusiness summit organised to showcase the agricultural potential that abounds across the state.

Abdul Oroh, the state commissioner for agriculture and natural resources, gave the hint in an exclusive interview with BusinessDay in his office in Benin City, the state capital.

According to Oroh, we are doing a land bank, and we have identified land in all parts of the state that are suitable for various crops such as sugarcane, cocoa, rubber, oil palm, cassava, rice, among other.

“For instance, in Owan East a particular investor has indicated interest for about 25,000 acres of land for the cultivation of sugarcane; in Etsako Central about 10,000 acres of land have been identified that is suitable for the cultivation of cocoa, and all the lands are free from all encumbrances,” he said.

Oroh, who said the land bank would enable the state government to identify lands across the 18 local government areas that were suitable for the cultivation of various crops, noted that the lands would be allocated to investors in places of their area of interest, were they have comparative advantage on the other.

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He however added that screening was ongoing on the applications of the potential investors to ascertain those that have the wherewithal, technical skills and capacity to invest as the state government would not want to tie down its land as well as guaranteed loans to the prospective investors.

He said that Industrial Development Group (IDG), a South Africa-based investment group, had applied for a huge land for the cultivation of oil palm and sugarcane.

While saying that survey was already ongoing in the land, he said it would be located in Edo South Senatorial District.

To the commissioner, all lands that have been identified are devoid of all forms of conflicts and encumbrances as the state government is mindful of its environment and policies that are built around sustainable development.

He further disclosed that applications had been received from prospective investors to cultivate 10,000 acres of cassava, 10,000 acres for cocoa, and 10,000 acres of land around Igiode in Etsako East Local Government for the cultivation of rice.

Some other investors listed by the commissioner include Dangote Group, which has applied for about 25,000 acres of land for rice cultivation, a traditional ruler in collaboration with Edo State Co-operative, and Thai Farm who has applied for 3,000 acres for the cultivation of cassava, among others.

The investors whose application have been considered as well as the state government signs a memorandum of understanding with would be encouraged to commence operations as quickly as possible, he said.

He also disclosed that about 100, 000 farmers had so far been registered in the ongoing Federal Government farmers’ enumeration exercise, noting that the exercise would not only ensure that genuine farmers were registered, but would also help in creating a database for the real farmers to benefit from government policies.