Okomu Oil Palm Plc, on Tuesday, flagged-off pilot phase of smallholders’ scheme for oil palm farmers from its neighbouring communities in Ovia South West local government area of Edo State.
The company, through its Agriculture Coordinator, Mr Billy Ghansah, also pledged technical support and ready market for the smallholders’ farmers.
Under the arrangement, the company has pledged to buy Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFB) from the farmers pending when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other financial institutions will fully key into the scheme to give out loans to farmers who intend to venture into oil palm farming.
Ghansah explained that to make the process transparent and beneficial to all, Okomu had involved credible international organisations like Terra Agric, who would help to liaise between the farmers and the company.
He advised farmers who desired to have their FFB sold to Okomu to join any cooperative society registered with the company or form a cooperative society and register with the company.
He said: “Okomu will not be dealing with individual farmers,” adding that with the cooperative society, it would be easier and faster for farmers to access loans on low interest rates from financial institutions.
He said that farmers would also benefit from the technical support of the company, easy access to buy quality young palm, and training on global best practices.
The coordinator said in spite of the challenges being faced in accessing financial support for the farmers, management of the company decided to start off with the pilot phase of buying FFB from farmers so as to show its commitment in the smallholders’ scheme.
Chairman, Terra Agric Commodities, Mr Jasper Easi, one of the major players in the scheme informed the Iyase (Traditional Head) of Udo and the farmers present at the launch that the company would serve as an aggregator that would be responsible for creating ready market for the farmers to sell their products.
The Traditional Head of Udo, Patrick Igbinidu, commended Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc for the initiative.
He expressed optimism that the scheme would go a long way in uplifting the standard of living of members of the community, if properly implemented.
Igbindu called on the oil palm farmers in the community to work with the various stakeholders on the scheme to ensure that the entire community is carried along.
Some oil palm farmers present at the occasion, including Chief Francis Iyama, Mr Sunday Odeh, Douglas Iyase and Mrs Dope Odia, commended Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc for the initiative.
They expressed their appreciation for the scheme, which they said would simplify their way of farming.
The farmers lauded the initial phase of buying their FFB, training them on the modern practice in oil palm farming as well as introducing them to financial institutions that would assist them with loans.
They said such incentives would encourage more people take to oil palm farming, as the wastage recorded as a result of the local milling of the oil would be drastically reducednan