Sylvester Idowu in Warri
Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa has called for more investments in agricultural development to curb rising food insufficiency in Nigeria.
He said that oil palm production was one area that wealthy Deltans and Nigerians could invest in to create job opportunities and economic development of the people.
Okowa, the vice-presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), made the call at the weekend after inspecting Oil Palm Plantation and Refinery under construction at Akwukwu-Igbo, Oshimili North Local Government Area of the state.
He said: “Four years ago, the management of Norsworthy Farms spoke to me when they were to commence and I thought it a worthy venture to have the state government stay supportive and in partnership with them to develop this oil palm plantation, now with a mill already being installed.
“Where we are now is quite interesting because we have had the opportunity to go round the one thousand four hundred hectares of land, all planted with oil palm seedlings that have grown so much; some are already producing.
“As a state government we believe in this worthy partnership because beyond the fact that it will help to grow the economy of this environment and also help the immediate communities that are around here, we are very mindful of the fact that it is going to generate a lot of employment for our people.
“I have been told that on the average, 300 persons are working on a daily basis in this place and I believe that when the mill comes on stream, we are going to have more persons engaged.”
Okowa added that the partnership would create more opportunities for outgrowers, especially in the oil palm development value-chain and urged Deltans to key into the opportunity provided by the partnership.
He commended the Management and staff of Norsworthy Farms, the Obi of Akuku-Igbo and the people of Illah for their support and cooperation towards the successful take-off of the project.
In his remark, the Managing Director of Northsworthy Farms and Allied Industries Limited, Dr Gabriel Ogbechie thanked the governor for his support and vision for the project.
He said the project, which is a joint venture between Northsworthy Farms, and Allied Industries Limited and the Delta State Government had successfully planted over 250,000 oil palm trees in over 1,400 hectares of land.
Ogbechie said that the project will indeed contributed to the agricultural development and food sufficiency need of the country.