The Management of Okomu oil palm, in Udo, near Benin, has pledged its readiness to provide technical support and ready market for small farmers in its host communities in Edo.
Okomu Oil Palm Company’s Agriculture coordinator, Mr Billy Ghansah, made the pledge at the launch of its pilot phase of smallholders’ scheme for oil palm farmers from its neighbouring communities around the main estate plantation in Ovia South West local government area on Tuesday.
According to him, with the scheme, the oil company is to start buying Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFB) from the farmers pending when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other financial institutions will fully integrate into the scheme to give out loans to farmers who intend to venture into oil palm farming.
He noted that to make the process transparent and beneficial to all, “Okomu has involved credible international organisations like Terra Agric who will help liaise between the farmers and the company.”
He advised farmers who desire to have their FFB sold to Okomu, join any cooperative society either registered with the company or form a cooperative society and register with the company, adding that “Okomu will not be dealing with individual farmer”.
Ghansah opined that with the cooperative society, “it will be easier and faster for farmers to access loans on low interest rates from financial institutions. “
He added that farmers would also benefit from the technical support from the company, easy access to buy quality young palm, and training on global best practices.
He said in spite of the challenges being faced in accessing financial supports for the farmers,” management of the company decides to start off with this pilot phase of buying FFB from farmers so as to show its commitment in the smallholders’ scheme.”
Mr Jasper Easi, chairman, Terra Agric Commodities, one of the major player 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 readily available market for the farmers to sell their products.
Easi reemphasised that the farmers would be trained on the concept of the programme and how it runs, noting that with the enthusiasm shown by the farmers and the Okomu oil company level of commitment so far, ” the programme will definitely succeed.”
The Iyase of Udo, His Royal Highness Patrick Igbinidu, appreciated Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc, for the initiative.
He expressed his palace’s optimism that the scheme would go a long way in uplifting the standard of living of members of the community if properly implemented.
He called on the oil palm farmers in the community to work with the various stakeholders on the scheme to ensure that the entire community benefitted from the scheme.
Some oil palm farmers present at the occasion included Chief Francis Iyama, Mr. Sunday Odeh, Douglas Iyase and Mrs. Dope Odia commended Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc for the initiative which they described as one that wouldl simplify their way of farming.
They expressed their appreciation for the scheme, saying 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 will assist them with loans, was commendable.
They said these incentives would encourage more persons take to oil palm farming as the wastage recorded as a result of the local milling of the oil would be drastically reduced.