Joining the rest of the world in the quest to revitalise the agricultural sector in the area of palm oil production, the Enugu State Government through the state Ministry of Agriculture and Mineral Resources has set aside over 80,000 oil palm seedlings for distribution to farmers in the state for 2021 planting season.
This was made known during an event organized by the Oil Palm Growers Association of Nigeria (OPGAN) in collaboration with the ministry to mark the flag-off of the 2021 planting season and distribution of seedlings to farmers across the state.
While declaring the commencement of planting season and distribution of seedlings open, the State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi stated that the state is on an aggressive move towards revamping agricultural activities in the state as a part of measures for boosting the economy of the state.
The Governor who was represented by the Commissioner for Agriculture and Mineral Resources, Dr. Mathew Idu, expressed satisfaction over how most of the crops which were erroneously seen as impossible to plant in this part of the country were now being produced in the state.
Encouraging farmers to explore and make more discoveries in agribusiness to maximize the benefits accruing from such ventures, the Governor promised that his administration will continue to commit more resources to agriculture to create a conducive farming environment and making it a full-scale business for farmers in the state.
“More vegetables that you buy in the market that you think we bring from the North, 80 per cent of them are no longer coming from the North. 80 per cent of our fruits no longer come from the North, we make them here. And make them even better,” Governor Ugwuanyi stated.
In their remarks, the National President, National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria, NPPAN, Mr. Alphonsus Inyang, and the Enugu State Chairman of OPGAN, Mr. Solomon Achi-Kanu, revealed that they had various programmes aimed at transforming the value chain in the oil palm production into an economically sustainable state.
The NPPAN and OPGAN bosses appealed to governments at all levels and private sector stakeholders to make adequate commitments in the funding of oil palm production to a sustainable level as a way of diversifying the economy in the face of the current dwindling revenue from the petroleum sector which Nigeria had hitherto heavily relied on.
Mr. Iyang specifically called on the Central Bank of Nigeria to provide funds for boosting oil palm production in the country. “This is a clarion call to the Central Bank Of Nigeria to as a matter of national and economic urgency, set aside a special fund with at least N200 billion for the development of oil palm sector under the existing Oil Palm Development Initiative”, Mr. Iyang stated.
The distribution of oil palm seedlings was conducted by NPPAN in collaboration with the Enugu State Ministry of Agriculture and Mineral Resources.
The state government had in the past carried out such gestures to farmers. In 2019, the State government reportedly distributed 20,000 oil palm seedlings to farmers.