Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State on Thursday flagged off the distribution of 550,000 oil palm seedlings to 701 farmers across the state for planting during the 2018 farming season.
Distributing the seedlings at Ejeme-Unor in Aniocha South Local Government Area of the state, Mr Okowa said the state’s yearly allocation for oil palm would be increased to encourage the farmers.
He said the seedlings were raised at Ejeme-Unor in Delta North, Oleh in Delta South and Arhagba Okpe in Delta Central Senatorial Districts for distribution to the farmers.
The governor said the 701 beneficiaries were selected based on set parameters, adding that each farmer was expected to own five hectares of oil palm farm.
He said the target was to ensure that farmers cultivated at least 15,000 hectares in the next six years through small and medium holder schemes to produce for local consumption and export.
According to him, the programme will help to restore the lost glory of the state in oil palm production before the advent of crude oil production in the country.
“This business is a win-win one for both the farmers and government and I want to assure you that every year, this project will witness higher allocation to encourage more production.”
Earlier, the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Austin Chikezie, said each of the farmers would be assisted with inputs such as seedlings, steel collar and fertiliser as soft loans.
Mr Chikezie said that the loans would be paid back at harvest under generous terms and conditions.
He said that each farmer would also receive N10,000 per hectare for land preparation, adding that extension services to support farmers during planting would also be provided.
The commissioner said the seedlings were sourced from the Nigeria Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR).
According to him, the flag-off marked the commencement of the 2018 small holder oil palm planting season.
“This is one of the efforts of government to revamp oil palm production and utilisation in the state.
“In 2016, government raised over 200,000 oil palm seedlings and 250 farmers benefited from the scheme.
Responding on behalf of the beneficiaries, George Ajabor, Chairman, Oil Palm Growers Association of Nigeria (OPGAN), lauded the government for the programme.
According to him, this was the first time a sitting governor is encouraging oil palm production it he state.
Mr Ajabor promised that the farmers would be committed and ensure that oil palm industry was revitalised in the state, adding that the conditions for the soft loans were liberal.
Another beneficiary, Geoffrey Okoh, thanked the state government for supplying them with the improved seedlings with about three years maturity period.
He said the farmers would do well in the palm business in order to improve their resources as well as the economies of the state and the country.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...