The Edo state government has leased the state owned Orhionigbe Rubber Estate located at Orhionmwon local government area to the Rubber Estate of Nigeria (formerly Michelin) to manage and develop.
Abdul Oroh, the state commissioner of agriculture and natural resources who disclosed this in an exclusive interview with BusinessDay in Benin City noted that the leasing of the rubber estate was under the state government Public Private Partnership Initiative (PPPI) policy to develop the rubber sub-sector of the agricultural sector.
Oroh said the state government under the PPPI advertised for the leasing of the rubber estate and noted that the Rubber Estate of Nigeria won the bid to develop and manage the estate.
He said the revitalisation of the moribund rubber plantation by the new management would positively transform the economic activities of the Orhionigbe community and other neighbouring communities as well as become a major source of revenue and taxes to the state government.
He added that the management of the Rubber Estate has indicated interest to invest about N1billion in the development of the estate within the next three years as well as establish a processing factory to boost its production.
Speaking further on this, Oroh said, “… We have to take this decision because for many years the state government could not manage the rubber plantation or do what is necessary to replant rubber trees that are old. Many of the trees are over 30 to 40 years. So we decided that it was not necessary again to run it because we don’t have capacity as a government to go back into land preparations, planting of rubber trees among others and the best thing is to give it to a company where we have interest. The leasing of the rubber estate followed due process of laws that entailed advertisement, bidding and others.”
He added, “The Rubber Estate of Nigeria applied for it and qualified as a company and won the bidding to manage the rubber plantation under the PPPI for the state government. Happily enough the state government also has interest in the company and it is the biggest rubber estate company in the country. The company has interest in Delta, Ondo, Edo and Ogun states. We expect that they will be able to transform the place, and they have assured us that they will invest about N1billion in it in the first three years.”
The Orhionigbe rubber estate which is over 4000 hectares in size was established in 1953, leased to the Western Regional Development Corporation in 1953 and subsequently handed over to Edo state after the creation of Delta state out of the defunct Bendel State in 1992.
The commissioner posited that the Rubber Estate of Nigeria is currently operating at Odo community in Ovia South West local government area of the state and added that the state governor, Adams Oshiomhole has also approved 4000 hectares of land for the Rubber Estate of Nigeria as part of plans to expand its operation in the state.
He further disclosed that the management of the Rubber Estate of Nigeria has also applied for another 20,000 hectares of land out of the state’s 150,000 hectares of land reserved land for rubber plantation.