Delta State Government on Thursday distributed 120,000 improved oil palm seedlings to support 350 farmers to cultivate 800 hectares of oil palm plantations across the state.
The State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa flagged off the exercise by distrusting oil palm seedlings, fertilisers and steel collars to beneficiaries of 2020 Small Holder Oil Palm Scheme (SHOPS) at Ejeme-Unor, Aniocha South Local Government Area of the state.
Okowa was represented by the Head of Service of the state, Mr Reginald Bayoko.
The Governor explained that his administration, since inception in 2015, had assisted 1,930 farmers with oil palm seedlings, fertilisers and steel collars to cultivate 4,425 hectares of oil palm plantations in the state.
He said no fewer than 700 farmers benefited from a programme sponsored by the state government on best management practices in oil palm production, adding that approval had been given for another 700 famers to be trained.
“You will recall that oil palm played a leading role in the economic lives of our people prior to the advent of crude oil.
“The state government established SHOPS in 1992 in her resolve to revamp oil palm production.
“The scheme was created to provide improved oil palm seedlings through the Tree Crops Unit of the State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources to boost the yield of the crop in the state,” the governor stated.
He said his administration approved the raising of 120,000 elite oil palm seedlings of ‘NIFOR and Malaysia tenera,’ through the SHOPS to support over 350 farmers in the state to plant 800 hectares in 2020.
“The objective of the scheme is to support each beneficiary farmer to develop five hectares over time.
”The successful participants in the scheme would be provided with oil palm seedlings nursed in our three nurseries located in Ejeme-Unor, Oleh and Arhagba-Okpe.
“This year, I have approved the raising of 150,000 oil palm seedlings for 2022 planting season. This will further increase the hectarage under cultivation in the state by 1,000 hectares,” Okowa said.
The governor charged the farmers to effectively utilise the opportunity provided by the scheme to reap its benefits to boost their earning and the state’s economy.
Earlier, Mr Ben Agamah, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, lauded the governor for the support to farmers in the state.
He said the support was a soft loan with a moratorium of four years, adding that each benefitting farmer was expected to take 300 oil palm seedlings, 300 steel collars to protect the seedlings and six bags of fertilisers.
“The beneficiaries will pay back the cost of inputs beginning at the harvest that is, after four years moratorium,” Agamah said.
Responding on behalf of the beneficiaries, Mr Hubert Obiaigwe, Vice Chairman, SHOPS, thanked the governor and the ministry for the support while pledging the resolve of members to effectively utilise the inputs to the benefit of all.
Also, Mr Nwasiwe Chukwuemwka, a Clergy and owner of Desaints Farm and Mr Anene Osadebe, of Ogude Farm, appreciated the governor, while calling on Nigerians to explore opportunities in oil palm production. nan.