The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has commended the management of Biase Plantations Limited, a subsidiary of PZ-Wilmar Industries for making history in taking the lead to implement the oil palm out-growers’ scheme in Nigeria, the first of its kind.
Governor of CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, gave the commendation during the flag off of the programme in Akamkpa Local Government Area of Cross River State.
Emefiele, who was represented by the Branch Controller of CBN in Calabar, Mr Chucks Sokari, said that Cross River is a state with high comparative advantage in oil palm production, owing to its abundant labour force and agro-edaphic factors.
He gave assurance that the CBN will continue to extend its ABP loan facilities to agro-entrepreneurs in the state for increased production in major commodities like oil palm, rice, maize, cassava, poultry, and fish among others.
“Today, Biase Plantations Limited is making history for taking the lead to implement the out-growers’ scheme in Nigeria, the first of its kind, which is highly commendable.
“This success will be replicated in other states just as the CBN is resolute and calls for more partnership from state governments, investors, big players in the oil palm industry and stakeholders in various agricultural value chains to key into the interventions,” he said.
In his speech, the General Manager, Biase Plantations, Mr Nicholas Boniface Ahoy said that Wilmar’s footprint in Cross River State began in 2011-2012 with the acquisition of derelict oil palm plantations at Calaro and Ibiae Estates for rehabilitation.
He explained that since then, the industry has been producing palm oil with the commissioning of the 45 metric tons per hour mill in Calaro estate in July 2018, replacing the old mill at Ibad estate.
According to him, the palm oil produced from the plantation is for their refinery in Lagos which produces, among others, cooking oil for the domestic Nigerian market under the brands of ‘Mamador’ and ‘Devon Kings’.
“In addition to developing our own estates, we embarked on a pilot out-growers project in 2017 with our own funding with the realization of 146 hectares around Calaro and Ibiae estates in Biase plantation Limited under Akamkpa as well as Biase local government areas.
“This farm where we are today will be the first outgrower farm under the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme covering a total area of 12 hectares.
“Our plan for 2020 under this programme is to establish 218 hectares of outgrowers farms and scale up to an additional 1,500 hectares in 2021 and we will continue in the subsequent years.
‘’Our goal is to be able to support farmers to develop a minimum of 6,000 hectares of sustainable oil palm plantations in Cross River State,” he assured.
Speaking, the Head, Development Finance Office, CBN Branch, Calabar, Dr Aniefiok Umoren, said that PZ Wilmar as parent company, had self-funded a pilot outgrowers programme for 43 farmers on a 146 hectares of land in Cross River State.
Umoren stated that the success story of the pilot project gave rise to the flag-off of the new Biase Plantations outgrowers’ scheme with CBN support.
In his remarks, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Okon Owuna, who was represented by Mr Gabriel Ufono, said that Wilmar had continued to expand its production, creating wealth and eradicating poverty in the state.
Mr John Etim-Bassey, Special Adviser to Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State on Oil Palm Development, said that the state has fertile land for oil palm plantation, adding that the Ayade led-administration was committed to the growth of agriculture in the state.