Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said the state is ready to commit between 100,000 to 150,000 hectares of land to the cultivation of oil palm plantations over a period of five to ten years.
Obaseki disclosed this when he received Malaysian investors who were on a business visit at the Government House in Benin City, Edo State.
Obaseki said his administration is determined to expand the total land available for oil palm cultivation in the state from the current 40,000 hectares to between 100,000 to 150,000 hectares of land.
He said, "The state is the home of oil palm cultivation in Africa with the three biggest oil palm producing companies located here. At a time in history, huge revenue accrued from oil palm production was used to drive development before the discovery of crude oil, which is no longer sustainable. Returning to oil palm production for us in Edo is the way out."
The governor noted that his visit to Malaysia in October 2017 was to see how the state can use proceeds from oil palm cultivation to transform her economy using the development model perfected in Malaysia and the entire South East Asia, adding, "My administration intends to take advantage of progress made in cultivating high yield varieties of oil palm in Malaysia and South East Asia, to attract more benefits and transform the economy of the state."
He maintained that "In this part of the world, we have climatic condition similar to Malaysia, which makes the state suitable for cultivating oil palm."
Obaseki noted that his administration had entered into agreement with Proforest to conduct audit of all the state's forest assets, noting, "We are keen on re-building some of the forest parks and restoring some of the species we are fast losing."
Head, Sime Derby Renewables, Azli Razali, who led the delegation of Malaysian investors on the business visit, said that they were in the state to explore business opportunities and seek possible ways to partner with the Edo State Government on oil palm production.
Razali said, "The team of investors from Malaysia considered Edo State a choice destination for cultivating oil palm and the business visit presents opportunity for them to explore the state's forest assets.
On his part, Principal Sustainability Officer, Sime Darby Renewables, Carl Dargenhert said, "Expanding the land bank for oil palm cultivation is crucial for effective oil palm plantation. Africa is the largest market for oil palm cultivation which is the reason why Sime Derby Renewables is seeking investment opportunities in Africa."