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How we transited from subsistence to large-scale agriculture in Edo, now have over 70,000ha oil palm plantation under cultivation – Obaseki

16 Jun 2024


...Cassava, maize, others now being farmed commercially

The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said that the state government has moved the State from subsistence to large-scale agriculture upon building on the learnings of the Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP).

The governor, in a chat with journalists, noted that learnings from running large-scale oil palm plantations have been transferred to developing commercial cassava farms used for manufacturing of flour and ethanol in the State.

According to Obaseki, “We still produce food in Nigeria at the subsistence level, which is inefficient. It is sad because before the Civil War when we had commodity boards and people were investing in larger-scale farming, which was more efficient. Agriculture was the mainstay of the economy and we didn’t have crude oil at that time. So, subsistence farming for 200 million people is not just going to work. We have got to think about production on scale because we're a huge country – a large country with a lot of landmass. But do we have that culture of agriculture? We produce food like every part of Nigeria, but we don't do it efficiently. You have small farmers going in, doing their shifting cultivation.”

On what the Edo State Government did differently, he said: “What we try to do in Edo is to think about how to cultivate large-scale farms. To start with, you have to go for the value crops like oil palm, rubber, and cocoa. We started from that end because of the advantage we have in attracting investors. We did a forest audit and realized that we had quite a lot of land that, unfortunately, had been deforested, which we could use for oil palm cultivation.

“We then launched the Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP). It was not about just giving out land, but a programme where we help you get land, survey the land, demarcate, go to the communities, deal with the communities, engage them, compensate those who you need to compensate, then do your nurseries, and get planting materials. Today, we have the largest agricultural programme on the continent, with more than 70,000 hectares of oil palm plantation. There are 7 to 8 investors, and everybody is producing.”

He added, “What that does for us is that once we have people who now have the expertise to prepare the land for oil palm, I can then move them to help me prepare land for cassava, maize, and other crops. More importantly, what we have done as a government is to bring them in and organize them. My concern is my people, the citizens who are going to work with them. We focused more on developing capacity.”

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