Delta State Commissioner for Agriculture, Chief Austin Chikezie says the state government has spent approximately N508 million on oil palm cultivation projects since 2016.
The commissioner made the disclosure at a Ministerial Press Briefing put forward by the Ministry of Information in the state capital, Asaba. He said the government spent N115 million in 2016 to raise 220,000 improved oil palm seedlings in the 500-hectare Ejeme-Uno nursery for distribution to farmers.
“In 2017, N198 million was approved for expansion of the project at two nursery sites in Oleh and Arhagba Okpe in Isoko South and Okpe Local Government Areas respectively to raise 100,000 oil palm seedlings each, while 550,000 seedlings are raised in Ejeme-Uno.
“This will assist 400 existing and new farmers to increase their oil palm cultivation by 800 hectares in this year; the project is expected to create 400 direct jobs and 1,000 indirect jobs in the state.
“This year, the sum of N195 million has been approved to further consolidate the oil palm production scheme for smallholder farmers and the funds will be used to nurture 400,000 improved seedlings at the three exiting nurseries in the state.
“This will also assist 350 farmers to cultivate 700 hectares of oil palm farms and this intervention is expected to create 2,080 cumulative jobs, when it is completed,’’ Chikezie added.
Chikezie noted that the state had spent N301 million on rice production from 2016 till date, adding that N51 million was specifically spent in 2016 to promote all-season rice farming in the state, train and support 60 rice farmers.
“In the same period, three rice processing mills were acquired for rice farmers at Obior in Anioch North, Ikweghwu-Agbarho in Ugheli North and Onicha-Ukwani in Ndokwa West local councils and the project is expected to create 60 direct jobs.
“In 2017, government approved N50 million for the cultivation of 242 hectares of rice farms, with 198 rice farmers benefit from the scheme, while targeting the production of 1,500 metric tonnes of rice.
“In 2018, the sum of N200 million has been budgeted for rice production, with a focus on 219 farmers to cultivate 300 hectares of rice farm,’’ he said.
He further assured the state, that the state government was committed to ensuring the success of the Anchor Borrowers’ Scheme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which is a financial scheme for smallholder rice, cassava and fish farmers.