DETERMINED to make the people of Delta State prosperous through the production of palm oil for local consumption and export, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has flagged-off the distribution of 220, 000 palm seedlings to be planted in 1, 517 hectares of land.
The ceremony which was christened ‘flag off of the 2018 smallholder oil palm scheme’ took place at the Ejeme-Unor, Aniocha South local government area of Delta State.
“Prior to the advent of crude oil, oil palm played a leading role in the economic lives of our people, the significance of the commodity manifested in the part it played as a foreign exchange earner in the early years of independence and the Delta area of the former Mid-West State was noted for its leadership in the production of palm oil until attention was shifted from agriculture to crude oil in the mid 70’s,” the Governor said.
He stated, “this exercise is part of our effort to provide meaningful assistance to farmers towards boosting the production of palm oil in the State, it is meant to empower participants to key meaningfully into the SMART Agenda and a practical demonstration of my administration’s commitment to the prosperity of all Deltans through the production of palm oil both for local consumption and export.”
“My administration approved the raising of 220,000 elite seedlings in 2016 through the smallholder oil palm scheme to support 250 farmers, the 2018 planting exercise, for which we are here today, has 701 participants to cover about 1,517 hectares; the objective of the scheme is to support each beneficiary farmer to develop a minimum of five hectares of oil palm estate over time,” Governor Okowa said at the occasion which was attended by farmers and stakeholders from different parts of the state.
He continued, “successful participants in the scheme would be provided with seedlings, fertilizers and steel collars. Information on best practices and mentoring on oil palm production would be provided by Government through the Delta Agricultural Rural Development Authority (DARDA). Such assistance is intended to stimulate the production of oil palm through the Tree Crops Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources to bring Delta State to its prime position as a leader in the industry.”
While urging farmers to utilize the opportunity provided by the scheme to start planting to enable them to reap the benefits, Governor Okowa assured the farmers that “all the support with regard to input, seedlings, steel collars and fertilizers are soft loans, which would be paid back under generous terms and conditions.”
Commissioner for Agriculture in the state, Hon. Austin Chikezie had in an address, said, “this year, the three nurseries located at Ejeme-Unor, Oleh and Aragba Okpe have raised a total of 550, 000 seedlings,” adding that the farmers were also, supported financially by the Delta State government.