The Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has assured of stronger international collaboration with more foreign partners and investors in the state’s agricultural sector, following the commitments he secured at the Rome conference on Eradicating Poverty Through the Agriculture and Plantation Industry to Empower Peace and Humanity, held on Tuesday in Italy.

The event assembled heads of governments, elite investors in the agricultural sector, particularly the oil palm sub-sector, members of the diplomatic community, the academia, the clergy, amongst others.

In attendance were the Ambassador of Indonesia to Germany, Arif Havaz Oegroseno; Maritime Coordinating Minister of Indonesia, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan; Malaysian Ambassador to the Vatican, Tan Sri Bernard Gilgal Dompok; and the  Prefect, Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, Cardinal Peter Turkson.

Others were the Indonesian Ambassador to Poland, Peter Gontha; Executive Director, Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC), Mr. Mahendra Siregar; and Mr. Ryan Edwards of Dartmouth University as well as investors, regulators and other stakeholders in the agricultural and allied sectors.

Obaseki said: “The conference provided the platform for oil palm producing countries and states such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Edo State, amongst others, to articulate the peculiar challenges militating against unhindered access of agricultural produce to European market.

“We compared notes on several issues and shared our experiences. Edo State is the largest producer of oil palm in Nigeria which makes the sector an area of strength for us.”

Marketing Edo State as the preferred investment destination on the continent, the governor told the conference participants that “the reforms in land administration in the state have removed all man-made encumbrances and have made land acquisition stress-free.

“We have moved away from the dark ages in which land grabbers reigned supreme, harassed and killed themselves over land. This scared away potential investors and sent the wrong signal to people prospecting for businesses in the state.

“Our rising profile on the Ease of Doing Business Index is attributable to the reforms in land administration and other sectors. Access to land is no longer a big deal in Edo State. We have very creative and industrious workforce; my administration is favorably disposition to supporting businesses; and our state is strategically located for  markets in all parts of the country.”

He added, “We are committed to leveraging the competitive advantage we have in this sector to create jobs for our youths and create wealth for our people.

The governor noted that “the takeaways from the conference will add a great deal of value to our agricultural roadmap in Edo State,” and pledged his administration’s continued support to private investors in the state.

According to the governor, “Indonesia and Malaysia are currently the top two countries in the global oil palm industry, our collective aspiration is to sustain the tempo, expand our plantations, create more markets for our produce, come up with innovative ways of producing more at less cost.”

Obaseki assured that more investors are set to come to Edo State to invest in the agricultural sector. “Our reforms are spurring investors’ interest and we have also communicated our high sense of hospitality, the creativity and industriousness of our youths and we are ready and open to business.”