Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said the state government will drive the development of oil palm sector in the state using the sugar industry model, noting that the commitment to revolutionising agribusiness in the state is paramount.
Obaseki disclosed this at the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC)’s Southern Region Sugar Sensitisation Workshop themed ‘The Emerging Challenges in the Implementation of the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) towards the Realisation of National Self-sufficiency in Sugar,’ held in Benin City.
Commending the Sugar Council for how well it has implemented the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP), the governor said that Edo State would take lessons from the sugar industry to develop its agribusiness sector, especially the oil palm sub-sector.
He described the workshop as an opportunity for the state to expand her knowledge base in making agriculture the mainstay of the state’s economy.
“We are one of the states endowed with numerous agricultural resources. We believe that agriculture is what will take us to our Eldorado, especially with increased investment in oil palm and rubber,” he said.
Obaseki maintained that the state will grow crops with comparative advantage in yield, and assured that necessary measures are being put in place to ensure that the state does not only produce raw materials but also processes them into finished goods.
The governor urged the council to prioritise manpower development, which is lacking in the sector.
Executive Secretary, NSDC, Dr. Latif Busari, said that Nigeria needs about 250,000 hectares of land for sugarcane cultivation as well as the establishment of 28 factories of varying capacities to become self-sufficient in food and industrial demand for sugar.
He noted that Nigeria has the potential of becoming a net exporter of sugar if the capacity of the existing sugar plants are enhanced, new plants established and sugarcane out-grower farmers supported through the provision of credit facilities and basic infrastructure.
He said that sugar remains one of the key components of the agribusiness and agro-allied sector, in which Nigeria has a comparative advantage going by its vast arable land.
Busari added that the council in 2010 came up with the National Sugar Master Plan to ensure that the country attains self-sufficiency, and explained “the plan was to ensure that local sugar production was increased, employment created, and forex on sugar and ethanol importation reduced.”