BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

Delta takes bold steps towards agro-industrial park development

...Assures on speedy completion of project

Delta State Government has again assured of its commitment to the speedy completion of the Delta State Agro–Industrial Park (DAIP) at Aboh-Ogwashi-Uku in Aniocha South Local Government Area of the state, having taken stronger step in that direction.

The step was the signing of factory plots of land lease agreement with a private agro-industrial investor.

Eric Eboh, a professor, who is the Delta State Chief Job and Wealth Creation Officer and chairman of the DAIP Implementation Committee, gave the assurance shortly after the signing of the Land Lease Agreement between the state government and Jayta Commodities Nigeria Limited, a private agro-investor.

The signing of the agreement took place months after the state government threw its door open to the investing public, calling for applications from agro-industrial companies interested in building and operating agro-processing factories in the park.

The 220 hectares park which is accessibly located at 20km from Asaba, the state capital, is intended to eliminate the prevailing infrastructural and operational bottlenecks to agro-industries by endowing a designated land area with dedicated uninterrupted power and water supply together with security, storage facilities and other operating amenities.

BusinessDay learnt that the park, which is under public private partnership (PPP), is with the objective to create and sustain a conducive operating enclave to make agro-industries operate easily, efficient, profitable and viable.

The agro-industrial park is seen as a key strategy for harnessing the state’s huge agricultural potentials and developing the agricultural value chain for job creation, economic diversification and sustainable development

Individual plots of about two hectares each are said to be available for 30-year lease based on investor-friendly terms and conditions.

The target agro-industries, agro-processing activities and products are: processing of grains, such as rice, maize, soya bean and others; roots and tubes crops processing, such as cassava, yam and potatoes; banana and plantain processing and derivative products; processing and milk-based products; processing of livestock such as beef, poultry, pork and others; fish processing and related products; processing of fruits and vegetables amongst others.

Delta Government, Jayta Commodities Nigeria Limited seal deal

In the agreement signed last week by the Delta State Government and Jayta Commodities Nigeria Limited, 7.2 hectares of land is allotted to the company, for the building, establishment and operation of integrated oil palm factory complex in the industrial park.

The factory complex comprises three components namely: palm oil mill, palm kernel crushing plant and effluent treatment system.

Eboh said the allotment of the factory complex had been approved by the state executive council upon recommendation by the DAIP Project Implementation Committee after rigorous due diligence and scrutiny.

Eboh also said that the terms and conditions of operation for the allotment include payment of the minimum deposit fee as commitment to implementing the agreement, commencement of the construction of the factory complex within six months of signing the agreement, completion of the construction of the factory, establishment, and commencement of factory operations within 24 months from signing the agreement.

According to him, one of the critical components of the DAIP is the dedicated factory plots to be managed by the private agro-investor.

Kingsley Emu, the Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) to Governor Okowa, had said that DAIP is one of the cardinal projects focused on job creation under public private partnership (PPP) to enhance job and wealth creation in the state, thus he described the project as one of the best models in the country.

“This is done in such a way to make businesses to aggregate themselves in the park. We hope you work and adhere strictly to the timeliness and rules as spelt out in the agreement. Looking at your pedigree, we pray that your entry will attract many more businesses,” he told the agro-Industrial investor.

Emmanuel Onyeweliaku, the Managing Director of Jayta Commodities Nigeria Limited, expressed optimism that his company would do its best to help the state government realise the aims of setting up the project.

“Agricultural value chain as it affects the DAIP is an untapped window. This is not agriculture at a subsistence level. This is agriculture on a commercial level. We are adding value. As we complete this process on behalf of our management, we are moving to site,” he remarked.

Among those who witnessed the signing of the agreement were Isaiah Bozimo Esq, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of the state; Ben Agama, representative of the Commissioner for Agriculture; Emmanuel Ovuzourie, representative of the Commissioner for Lands; Fred Onojeta, representative of the Director-General of the Delta State Investments Development Agency; Kester Ifeadi, an architect and DAIP Project Consultant – Contemporary Design Associates; Ken Ushi, head of operations of Jayta Commodities Nigeria Limited and Solomon Okowa, executive assistant.

DAIP to boost Delta’s non-oil revenue sector

Governor Ifeeanyi Okowa had during the South-South Export Enlightenment and Engagement Forum held in Asaba, last year, said: “We need strong, dynamic and effective Public Private Partnership models to not only accelerate infrastructural development but also actualise critical investments in the non-oil sectors that will aid diversification of the economies of the South-South states and stimulate export.

Read also: Ayade takes delivery of more trucks for Cross River agro-industrial revolution

“This we are doing in Delta with the Ogwashi-Uku Agro-Industrial Park, a partnership between the Delta State Government on one hand, and Mirai Technologies and Norsworthy Limited on the other. I make bold to say that any prospective investor in Delta State will be sowing on good and fertile ground,” he said.

Policies on ground to support investors

The governor further said: “Since 2015, we have put in place policies and structures to make the state very investor friendly. One of my first actions as governor was to facilitate easy access to land by introducing an electronic-based system, known as Fast-track 90, for obtaining Certificates of Occupancy to landed property within a maximum period of ninety days.

“I followed this up with the promulgation of the ‘Delta State Public and Private Property Protection Bill, 2018,’ which prohibits forceful entry and illegal occupation of public and private landed property, violent and fraudulent conducts in relation to public and private landed property. The law came into force in June 2018, and prescribes various terms of imprisonment and fines for any person who forcefully and unlawfully trespasses or invades another person’s property. Through this law, we are tackling the “Deve” (omonile) syndrome that has been an impediment to land acquisition development and a disincentive to prospective investors.”

DAIP, a one-stop shop for agro-processing for domestic consumption and export

The governor had emphasised that the agro-industrial park is the “cornerstone of agricultural value chain transformation drive” of his administration.

In an interview, Eboh had disclosed that the park project went through rigorous feasibility, appraisal and analysis – both national and international process – with over three foreign banks competing to fund the project.

“The Agro-Industrial Park is one of the major flagship of the Okowa administration. The project went through international validation by three banks as viable and self-sustaining and by the time the project kicks off, the agricultural value chain will never be the same again in Delta. It is meant to be a game changer and a one-stop shop for agro-processing for domestic consumption and export in Delta.

“The Ogwashi-Uku Dam was one of the key criteria for the location of the Agro-Industrial Park,” Eboh said.

Kester Ifeadi had also explained that the land comprises of 220 hectares with 100 hectares of rice farm as the anchor project and assured that there would be constant electricity and water supply in the park. “There was a feasibility study carried out and the present site was chosen as most suitable because of the water bodies in the area. The central portion is the engine-room for commercial plots of 1.5 hectares of land for agro-industrial investments.

“The Park Centre, which is the life-blood and the epicentre of the Agro-Industrial Park, will have the rice plant, warehouses, residential, hospitality, conferences, trainings, seminars, research and quality control laboratory.

“There is a lake of 1.4cubic meters of water to sustain the project all year round including the dam and potentials for generating electricity to jump start the project.

“To ensure the sustainability of the project, it will be private sector driven by the Delta State Argo-Industrial Park Limited with Delta having 40 percent, MRG 30 percent and Norsworthy Investments 30 percent,” he said.

It is hoped that agricultural produce from every part of the state would be processed in the park, which will encourage the farmers to work harder with full assurance that they would reap the benefits of their hard work.

Also, a lot of persons are expected to be engaged to work in the park which would in turn give a great boost to the job creation efforts of the Okowa administration. Governor Okowa once revealed that at full capacity, the park will host 20 to 30 agro-processing factories and agro-business enterprises. Altogether, the number of direct jobs that the park could be up to 4,000 while the indirect economic impacts will cover tens of thousands of farmers, he said.

Harping on the essence of the project, Eboh said it would provide a safe operating space for agro-allied industries and factories to process agricultural raw materials into edible or finished products.

DAIP to provide missing links in agricultural value-chain:

Lack of processing facilities is one of the missing links in the agricultural value-chain in Delta State. Thus, it is expected that this agro-Industrial park will be a game-changer for Delta. It is one of its kind in the country and it has great prospects for the turn-around of the agricultural economy of the state, said Eboh, a professor of agricultural economics.

“In terms of the potential impact, it is humongous – social, economic and developmental – to the agricultural value-chain of Delta. The benefits of the project have been validated by National and International Financing Organisations and we are confident that this project will stand the test of time even after Okowa’s exit as governor.”

Hope for a dream come true

It would be recalled that the park project was proposed towards the end of Okowa’s first tenure (2015-2019).

Many wondered why the delay on the execution of the project but the governor during his 2021 budget speech disclosed that it had been a period of rigorous planning, hard work and negotiations.

He promised that the park would soon take off as the ground-breaking ceremony was billed to be performed same year, thus rekindled hope among stakeholders and general public.

Stronger steps were seen to have been taken leading to the agreement signed between the state government and Jayta Commodities Nigeria Limited, for the company to build and operate integrated oil palm factory complex in the park.

More investors may also be favoured soon and when terms of agreement are kept, the park project would be a dream come true for Okowa’s eight-year administration (2015-2023), towards the socio-economic development of Delta State and Nigeria.

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