From Tony Osauzo, Benin
In line with the country’s economic diversification policy, a $750 million farm with an initial investment of $300 million, targeted at creating 25,000 direct and 60,000 indirect jobs, was yesterday,unveiled in Benin, Edo State.
Unveiling the project in a presentation to Edo Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, the investor, Dr. Hosa Okunbo explained that it has been his long time vision as child to go into the project.
Okunbo, who introduced his technical and financial partners from the San Carlos Group, in Mexico, explained that the farm located at Odighi and Odiguetue, in Ovia North-East Local Government Area has already taken off with an $11 million 20-hectare Green House vegetables farm, which products would be exported overseas.
“I want to present to you what I call my vision, my legacy; something I have been nurturing in the last four to five years. Why this is very important to me is, as a pilot, I conquered my profession at the age of 30 and I left. I went into shipping. With over 60 vessels, I have conquered the sea. Now, I want to conquer the land before the land takes me,” Okunbo told Oshiomhole.
According to the presentation, the farm is expected to produce cash and arable crops such as cocoa, pineapples, pawpaw, banana and stevia. Other products expected from the farm, are livestocks, including cattle, poultry and piggery, just as it will also engaged in the production of tilapia- all targeted at export and meeting the protein and milk requirement of Nigerians. The farm also has plan for agro industrial park and airstrip to evacuate products to Europe and elsewhere.
In his response, Oshiomhole commended Okunbo for the initiative and expressed his delight at the project.
“One way to help our communities is how to create jobs.
“The objective of Wells Farm complements the Federal Government’s policy on food security and creating jobs. I think you are on the right path and I am excited that you come from this state. For us, government is committed to supporting you. Captain you can take that for granted. I am also happy to note from your presentation that it is a diversified farm,” Oshiomhole added. Calling for encouragement of local investors, the governor explained that Edo State was planning to create a one-stop desk on issues relating to agriculture, where government responds quickly.
He told the Mexican partners that despite the country’s challenges, returns on investment in Nigeria were higher than elsewhere.
Mr. Segun Awolowo, director general, Nigeria Export Promotion Council, witnessed the presentation.