The Managing Director/CEO of Agro-Allied Resources & Processing Nigeria Limited (ARPN), Mr. Madhukar Khetan, thanked the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele and his team for their visit to the ARPN plantation in Ovia Northeast LGA of Edo State. He thanked CBN for its support in the development of the ARPN oil palm project since its inception. He also expressed his gratitude to the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, for allocating about 12,000 hectares of land for agriculture-related activities and providing an enabling environment for the exploitation of the business.
During the recent visit of the CBN Governor, Mr. Emefiele said that there are many agricultural programs implemented by the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari in the past 6 years. Mr. Emefiele recalled the statement made by the President “we produce what we eat and eat what we produce”. He expressed satisfaction with the level of progress of the oil palm development project that ARPN embarked on in 2019. He wondered how the country could have coped with the rising cost of commodities. food and commodities in the world without the foresight to revamp the agricultural sector.
While acknowledging the important role played by the Edo State Government and Governor Godwin Obaseki, the CBN Governor called on other states to emulate Edo State, which has made available around 70% arable land for agricultural investment. During the assessment of the farm, Mr. Emefiele attested to the giant strides already recorded in the cultivation of oil palm. In addition to oil palm, ARPN has also started growing cassava and maize on the site to promote agriculture. He also expressed his optimism that within the next 12 months the company will start harvesting palm production. He said that in terms of sustainability, ARPN has started a journey and it will be difficult to reverse it.
Mr. Madhukar Khetan added that the cultivation of oil palm, cassava and maize are part of the upstream integration campaign of Dufil Prima Foods Plc (maker of Indomie noodles) and Tolaram Group to source raw materials. locally grown raw materials for food production. The step taken by the ARPN in this direction also supports the initiative of the federal government for the development of the agricultural sector, particularly palm oil. Agriculture is the backbone of a country’s economic development.
Khetan said ARPN began development of its plantation in 2019 after paying harvest compensation to around 2,000 farmers and developing an access road to the site from the main Benin-Akure road. The pre-nursery and the main nursery were set up where high-yielding varieties of oil palm seeds were sown. The seedlings were transplanted to the main field after 15 months of growth in the nursery. These palms will be ready for harvest from the year 2024. He added that during the same period, ARPN has carried out additional plantings directly in the main field with locally purchased seedlings which will start producing at from the year 2023. ARPN is the first company in Nigeria to achieve plantations on such a massive scale in a short period of 2 years. He also revealed plans for setting up a modern, state-of-the-art oil palm crusher which is expected to start operations by 2024. The plantation has employed more than 1,000 workers directly in various agricultural activities in nearby communities and has even built housing for their accommodation.
Mr. Khetan once again expressed his gratitude to the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Edo State Government for their continued support to the development of the agricultural sector and assistance in the integration trip initiative upstream. He thanked the host communities for the cordial relations and the harmonious environment. He recognized the contribution of the company’s workforce who worked hard to achieve the set goals within the specified timeframe and was instrumental in achieving this milestone.