The Central Bank of Nigeria, led by its governor, Godwin Emefiele, paid a courtesy visit to the Agro-Allied Resources & Processing Nigeria Limited (ARPN) in Edo State. The CBN team was received by the MD/CEO of Agro-Allied Resources & Processing Nigeria Limited (ARPN), Mr Madhukar Khetan, who thanked the CBN team for the visit to the ARPN plantation in Ovia Northeast LGA of Edo State.

Khetan thanked the CBN for its support in the development of ARPN’s oil palm project since its inception. He also extended 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.

The CBN Governor further stated that there are many agricultural programmes implemented by the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari in the past 6 years. Mr Emefiele recalled the pronouncement made by Mr President when he said, “We produce what we eat and eat what we produce”.

Emefiele expressed satisfaction with the level of progress made in the oil palm development project which ARPN embarked upon in the year 2019. According to him “I wonder 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 Godwin Obaseki, the CBN Governor appealed to other states to emulate Edo State, which has made available about 70 per cent of the 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 commenced the cultivation of cassava and maize at the site to promote agriculture. Khetan expressed optimism that in the next 12 months, the company will start harvesting the output from the palm. He stated that in terms of sustainability ARPN has started a positive journey that will be difficult to reverse.

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 was taken by ARPN towards this direction also supports the Federal government’s initiative for the development of the agricultural sector particularly palm oil. Khetan insisted that agriculture is the backbone of a country’s economic development.

ARPN commenced the development of its plantation in the year 2019 after paying crop compensation to c.2,000 farmers and developed an access road leading to the site from the main Benin-Akure road. The pre-nursery and main nursery were setups 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 the year 2024. ARPN carried out additional planting directly in the main field with locally procured seedlings which will start yielding output from the year 2023.

According to Khetan “ARPN is the first company in Nigeria to achieve planting at such a massive scale in the short span of 2 years. We will be setting up a modern state-of-the-art oil palm crushing mill which is expected to commence operations by the year 2024. The plantation has employed over 1,000 direct workers in various farming activities from neighbouring communities and we built houses to accommodate the workers.”

Khetan thanked the host communities for the cordial and harmonious environment. He appreciated the company’s workforce for their hard work in achieving the set objectives within the specified timeline and accomplishing this milestone.

Published on Brandfit.

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