Delta government seeks partnership with the traditional rulers to boost oil palm production in the state for jobs creation and for export earnings.
Mr Julius Egbedi, Delta Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources made the call at a meeting with Traditional Rulers on Friday in Asaba.
He said that it had become necessary to brife the royal fathers on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Oil Palm Development Initiative in the country, adding that traditional rulers have a pivotal role to ensure the success of the programme in the country.
He said that the traditional rulers were expected to work with the communities to ensure the provision of adequate land area, engage youths and women for the oil palm cultivation.
He said that the programme was billed to kick off next year (2020) on a large scale, adding that individuals and group farmers would participate as out growers through plantation owners and investors.
Egbedi said that prospective investors would be requires to acquire expansive land from communities to establish their farms as the loan would be given to farmers without collaterals but subject to a maximum individual farmland of one hectare.
According to the commissioner, the CBN
Scheme was designed to revive the ailing condition of the oil palm industry in Nigeria.
“You would recall that prior to the production of crude oil, the country was a formidable leader in palm oil production and export but today, about 50 per cent of palm oil and associated products consumed in the country, are imported.
“This is to notify our royal fathers that the CBN Oil Palm Initiative will provide loans for farmers and investors at nine per cent interest rate with a moratorium of four years to boost oil palm production to reverse the slide.
“The loan will be partly cash and in kind; land preparations, seedlings, fertilizers and chemicals will be provided through registered providers while cash for weeding and herbicides application among others would be disbursed to the farmers.
“Participation in the programme will cover youths and women farmers, communities and investors”.
The commissioner said that the loan repayment modalities have been worked out and that it would spread though eight years period.
He disclosed that 20 communities in the state have already provided a total of 22,000 hectares of land for investors, adding that those that provided land have secured automatic qualification as out growers.
“It is therefore, my pleasure to invite you our royal fathers to join hands with the Delta Government and CBN to welcome and engage investors to accelerate the implementation of the programme in the state,” he said.
Responding on behalf of the royal fathers, HRM, Dr Emmanuel Efeizomor II, Obi of Owa and Chairman, Delta State Council of Traditional Rulers, thanked the state government for involving the royal fathers in the programme.
He pledged that the council would work to ensure the success of the programme while calling on government to remain transparent in executing the programme.
According to him, the project must not be one of the ways to pacify politicians but that those who are qualified should benefit from it.