The MD/CEO of Agro-Allied Resources & Processing Nigeria Limited (ARPN), Madhukar Khetan has thanked the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele and his team for their visit to ARPN plantation in Ovia Northeast LGA of Edo State. Thanking CBN for their support in the development of ARPN’s oil palm project since inception, he also expressed his gratitude to the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki for allocating c.12,000 hectares of land for agricultural related activities and providing a conducive environment for the company to operate in.

During the recent visit of the CBN Governor, Emefiele stated that there are many agricultural programmes implemented by the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari over the past six years and recalled the pronouncement made by the President “we produce what we eat and eat what we produce”. He expressed his satisfaction with the level of progress made in the oil palm development project, which ARPN embarked upon in 2019. He said he wondered how the country could have coped with the rising cost of food and commodities across the world without the foresight to revamp the agricultural sector.

While acknowledging the significant role played by Edo State Government and Governor Obaseki, Emefiele appealed to other states to emulate Edo, which has made available about 70 percent of arable land for agricultural investment. During the assessment of the farm, Emefiele attested to the giant strides already recorded in the cultivation of oil palm. In addition to oil palm, ARPN has also commenced the cultivation of cassava and maize at the site to promote agriculture. He also expressed optimism that in the next 12 months, the company will start harvesting output from palm. He stated that in terms of sustainability, ARPN has started a journey and it will be difficult to reverse it.

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Madhukar Khetan added that the cultivation of oil palm, cassava and maize are part of Dufil Prima Foods Plc (makers of Indomie noodles) and Tolaram Group backward integration drive to source locally grown raw materials for use in food production. The step taken by ARPN towards this direction also supports the Federal government’s initiative for the development of agricultural sector particularly palm oil. Khetan said that ARPN commenced the development of its plantation in 2019 after paying crop compensation to c.2,000 farmers and developed access road leading to the site from the Benin-Akure road. The pre-nursery and main nursery was setup where high-yielding varieties of oil palm seeds were sowed.

The seedlings were transplanted into the main field after 15 months of growth in the nursery.

These palms will be ready for harvest from 2024. He added that, during the same period, ARPN carried out additional planting directly in the main field with locally procured seedlings, which will start yielding output from 2023. ARPN is the first company in Nigeria to achieve planting at such a massive scale in a short span of two years. He also revealed plans of setting up a modern state-of-the-art oil palm crushing mill, which is expected to commence operations by 2024. The plantation has employed over 1,000 workers directly in various farming activities from neighbouring communities and even built housing for their accommodation.

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Khetan once again conveyed his appreciation to the CBN and Edo State Government for their continued support in the development of the agricultural sector and assistance extended in the initiative of backward integration journey. He thanked the host communities for the cordial relationship and providing harmonious environment. He acknowledged the contribution of the company’s workforce who has worked hard to achieve set objectives within the specified timeline and were instrumental for accomplishing this milestone.