In consistent with its commitment to generate sustainable employment and boost domestic commercial agriculture, Edo State government has proposed to cultivate over 300,000 hectares of new farmland across the state.
The new farmland would cut across key food and cash crops spectrum with an emphasis on the development of domestic small and medium scale agriculture.
Governor Adams Oshiomhole, who made the disclosure at the presentation of 2014 budget proposal to the Edo State House of Assembly in Benin City, the state capital, said the investment would create over 300,000 new jobs over the next three years of his administration.
BusinessDay reports that the state ministry of agriculture and natural resources has identified over 200,000 hectares of farmland across the three senatorial districts in its land data bank initiative.
The 200,000 hectares of farmland are part of the state government agricultural policies to encourage investors that have indicated interest to invest in the state agribusiness sector.
The land is in addition to several hundred thousands of the state government’s reserved land for commercial agricultural activities.
Some of the local and international investors that have expressed interest to invest in the state’s agricultural sector are Ekha Bio Chemical Industry, Dufil Company (maker of Indomie noodles), Industrial Development Group based in South Africa, Dangote Group, Olam, Obax Sunbird Energy Africa, and Wilbahi Investment Nigeria Ltd, a company that has secured funding from major agricultural project in the state under the Federal Government programme.
Others are Integrated Agro-Business Ltd, Global Plantations, an India-based company, Green Park Petrochemical Industry that will engage in the production of fertiliser, as well as Edo State-based industrialists, among others.
It is gathered that about 180,000 hectares of land have been earmarked to be allocated to different investors free of charge.
It is also learnt that the state government is expecting about $2 billion investment in the agriculture sector by 2016.
The governor, who announced that N1.5 billion had been proposed in the 2014 capital budget to the agricultural sector, added that it was the desire of his administration to strengthen the sector and make agribusiness a viable proposition across all branches of agriculture.
He also disclosed that the Edo State Agricultural Development Programme and College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi, would be empowered to bring modern agricultural practices to the people.
IDRIS UMAR MOMOH