The Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, has said that the state government has built a structure to sustain the gains of the $500m investment in the state’s oil palm sector.
The governor, in an interview with Africa Report, a magazine, said the investment would drive Nigeria’s diversification targets as the plantations developed through the state’s Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP) would provide feedstock for manufacturing companies in the country.
According to him, “We decided to be strategic in the development of oil palm, rubber and cassava value chains in Edo State. We developed plans and went to the Federal Government for support. This is why we got financing from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“ESOPP benefits from CBN financing as we sat down to determine the type of financing was required to built a sustainable sector. We also keyed into the government’s mechanization programme. We have since attracted $500m in investment into the state’s oil palm sector.”
The governor noted that the state government prioritised the task of ensuring that there was a market for the produce from the plantations, stating that the government approaches agriculture as a business and got partners that believe in the same principles.
“There has to be a market. Agriculture is a business. We located companies and partnered with them. We looked at what they needed and asked them to come to Edo to invest in the raw materials they needed to run their factories and plants.
“One of the criteria we considered is the fact that they must have a market for their product and require a steady source of raw materials. We asked them to walk back through the production value chain and come and site in Edo as the source of their raw materials. With this arrangement, the investment is sustainable.”
He added that the government has since built frameworks, systems, institutions and local capacity to ensure the sustainability of the investment so that the people are well integrated into the production activity by the investors.