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Delta Governor Task Farmers To Key Into Government Programmes

By Kenneth Orusi, The Nigerian Voice, Asaba
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Delta State governor, Mr Ifeanyi Okowa, has charged farmers especially oil palm producers to key into the programme of the government on oil development.

The Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Austin Chikezie who represented the state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, disclosed that it is the surest way to create wealth and give employment to Deltans, “we have our own oil palm development programme that is in line with the CBN is doing”.

Governor Okowa stated this Wednesday at a one-day seminar on developing a framework for sustainable financing of smallholders in oil palm value chain in Nigeria, organized by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), at Bnizia Hotel, Asaba.

He disclosed that CBN has introduced the NASA Programme, an additional window aimed at helping the state government finance to finance oil palm production, “We have verified farmers and we are still asking Deltans even those that are not here to key into the programme”.

He advocated that Nigeria as a nation should return to farming as Nigerians have the technical know-how, “it may surprise you that Ghana and Malaysia took their seedlings from NIFOR. The best thing is for us to go back and see why we are not doing well, “part of the problem is because we rely so much on oil and now that oil is failing us, t is clear that the best way to go is agriculture and in agriculture you look at areas where you can do very well. We Deltans we can do very well in oil palm”, he noted.

He said farming is more lucrative as it employs more labour than any other sector in the country, lamenting that the GDP from agriculture remains low, “the thing is that we are not doing what we are expected to do”.

Also speaking, the Branch Controller of CBN, who was represented by the Head Branch Support, Mr Ebeigbe Okolie Sylvester, in his address, said the agricultural policy between 2016 and 2020 had identified a supply gap of 3.5 million metric tonnes on oil palm fresh bunches.

He pointed out “CNB is committed to promoting economic growth and sustainable development which leads to the establishment of various schemes for agricultural sector development with emphasis on exportable commodities in the country”.

The Branch Head Support said the seminar is to engender a framework for sustainable finance and to promote smallholders farmers in the production, processing and export of oil palm; provide the opportunity to improve local capacity and channel resources towards the establishment of new oil palm plantations, among others.

According to him, “it is expected that researchers and other stakeholders will focus attention on all aspects of production, processing and marketing to ensure increased exploitation of the potential of oil palm for wealth creation”, expressing hope that at the end of the seminar a sustainable financing framework would have been developed for the oil palm sub-sector.

The representative of the MD of Zenith Bank, Lucky Iyade, Group’s Zonal Head for Delta state, revealed that the bank was very active in developing agriculture through commercial lending and CBN intervention fund, stressing that the state government has also keyed into agricultural development.

Lead papers on “Oil Palm Industry in Nigeria – A synoptic Assessment, Sustainable Financing of the Oil Palm Value chain for Economic Development – How, What and Who, What are the key enabling conditions that will attract investments in the financing of smallholder oil palm farmers to foster sustainable and inclusive development and How Do we Utilize ABP Platform to finance oil palm value chain were delivered.