Ondo’s Massive Oil Palm Plantation
THE Ondo State government in a bid to promote industrialization and development of the state introduced the Red Gold Agenda to encourage and support indigenous investors. The realization of this novel agenda is already manifesting in practical terms with the various success stories being recorded with introduction and take off of new development projects in different parts of the state in recent times. One of such projects was the flag off of planting of oil palm on JB Farms (Ore Oil Palm Plantation) in Ore, Odigbo Local Government Area of the state. The farm spanning a total land area of 10,000 hectares when fully operational would provide about 40,000 direct and indirect jobs for the teeming population of the state.
THE Ondo State Governor emphasized that government’s investments in agricultural sector are for the future benefits of not only the state but the country at large and that his government would continue to promote and encourage indigenous investors in this area. He further hinted that his administration has given out 70,000 hectares for tree crops programme, while available records indicate that six of other similar palm plantations are already working in the state.
THE governor also reiterated the commitment of Ondo state government, besides oil palm, to the promotion of Cocoa, Cashew, Rubber and Coffee that were largely neglected in recent times by past administrations in the country. He added that Ondo State will not relent in her desire to remain the number one producer of Cocoa and Oil-Palm among other cash crops.
THIS initiative and giant strides are highly commendable against the background of the fact that in the early 1960s, Nigeria oil palm accounted for about 43 percent of the world total production that has plummeted to less than 7 percent. This has pushed the country from first position to rank as the fifty highest producers of palm oil worldwide, with Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Colombia above the country. These are countries that came to Nigeria in the 1950s to collect palm seeds for planting in their countries.
THEREFORE, efforts to redress the situation in which a country that was once-largest exporter that had turned into net importer of same product should be highly commendable and wholehearted supported. No doubt when the various initiatives and projects become fully operational, they would have attracted a huge investment of resources into the state.
THE present attention and resources being committed to palm produce is worthwhile and commendable because it seeks to reenact the practice in the country when agricultural product export was the main stay of the country’s economy. Then the country was adjudged the highest producer of palm oil.
IT should be emphasized that as good as government’s efforts in promoting and enhancing increased activity in agricultural sectors are, we must consider the negative impact of the projects on the environment and safety of endangered species of animals. In this case some individual farmers will be displaced; they need to be properly resettled in line with international best practices. When the farmlands are fully in operation, wastes of different types will be generated which should be properly taken care of. Thus, the need to undertake comprehensive Environmental Impact assessments for the projects becomes indispensable and should be carried out to eliminate unintended consequences of promoting agricultural development in the state.
TO ensure the success of the programme and for the excellent initiatives of the government not to go the way of past programmes such as Farm settlement programme of the pre and post-independence era, Operation Feed the Nation(OFN), Agricultural Revolution of the second Republic, and Back to Land among others, the government must put in place machinery to institutionalise, internalize the programme by participants, monitor and ensure the programme operates as conceived and to see that it is sustainable.
ALSO, the beneficiaries or participants should reciprocate the good gesture and initiatives of the Ondo State government by hard work, dedication and commitment as well as adhere strictly to the terms and conditions attached to the programme. They should not see it as one of those political programmes meant to settle political jobbers.