Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has said the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) push to reclaim Nigeria’s position as a global powerhouse in oil palm production by blacklisting importers of the product will boost the oil palm industry as well as allied industries that rely on the product for sustenance.
The governor said Edo is noted for oil palm production as it lies on the agro-ecological belt suitable for oil palm cultivation in Nigeria. The state, he said, hosts two of the biggest companies in the sector in the country.
At a recent meeting between the CBN and oil palm producers in Abuja, Obaseki said 118,000 hectares of land have been earmarked for the oil palm programme in Edo State, adding that 115,000 hectares would be used for the actual cultivation while three hectares would be used for infrastructure, including roads.
“Oil palm and other value crops like rubber, cocoa were the base on which the economy of this country was built at independence. If we are going to see real growth, we need to go back to those products where we have relative competitive and comparative advantages. In the case of Edo, we have the advantage of being the home of oil palm in the country,” he said.
The governor added that the state government is ready to provide more land to investors with proven financial and technical capabilities to support the development of large-scale oil palm plantations, noting that 70,000 hectares of land are currently being cultivated in the state.
CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who announced the Presidency’s directive for the apex bank to blacklist any firm, its owner and top management caught smuggling or dumping palm oil into the country, expressed optimism for the revival of the oil palm sector.
He said with the help of state governments, Nigeria could reach self-sufficiency in palm oil between 2022 and 2024 and ultimately, overtake Thailand and Columbia to become the third largest producer over the next few years.
Emefiele added that, to achieve the targets, the apex bank intends to support improved production of oil palm, to not only meet the domestic needs of the market, but, to also, increase exports in order to improve forex earnings.