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Ikpeazu dreams 10,000 hectares for oil palm plantation by 2018

As part of new moves to drive diversification of the state economy, the Abia State Government has embarked on oil palm revolution that will make the state highest exporter of palm produce.

The State Commissioner of Agriculture, Uzo Azubuike in a statement weekend, said the State Government is set to drive agricultural revolution by developing the oil palm value chain to make the state the number one in oil production not just in Nigeria but Africa.

To achieve this, the state government has set a target of developing 7.5 million seedlings between 2016 and 2019, targeting 10,000 hectares of oil palm plantation across the state.

It said this would be achieved in phases.

It will be recalled that the last time a state in Nigeria embarked on oil palm plantation was in 1964.

It was done by the then Eastern State under the governorship of late Dr. M.I. Opara.

According to Azubuike, the state is targeting two million seedlings in the first phase of the oil palm revolution, with the second will producing three million and the third 2.5 million seedlings.

At Ahiaba Umueze in Osisioma Ngwa North Local Government Area of the state, which was visited by newsmen, it was discovered that over 1.5 million nuts have already been planted.

Azubuike, while answering questions from newsmen at the location, said the Governor Okezie Ikpeazu-led administration had through the project employed over 1,000 people, especially youths and women in the communities, and created wealth for families.

He said the seedlings were bought for N350 million and should yield over N700 million in the next one year, thereby increasing the revenue generation of the state.

He revealed that the state is establishing a Community-Based Oil Palm Project, which intends to inject the seedlings into the communities to achieve this.

The seedlings, according to Azubuike, would be sold to farmers at subsidized rates, which would be tested within the selected pilot communities.

The essence, he said, is to ensure that every farm land has two to three stands of high yielding oil palm growing in it.

Under the arrangement, each community would have an anchor that would buy off Fresh Fruit Bunches for processing, making it possible for every community to have a mini palm processing mill, while the state builds an oil palm refinery.

The Commissioner further revealed that following the zero tolerance to land waste of the state government policy, it has also embarked on ginger and pineapple production at Ohambele, Ukwa East Local Government.