Edo unveils plan for 47,000-hectare oil palm plantation under ESOPP phase 2

The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has unveiled plans for launch of the second phase of the state’s Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP), with an additional 47,000 hectares to be allocated to new and prospective oil palm investors.
Fresh oil palm fruits
Fresh oil palm fruits

The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has unveiled plans for launch of the second phase of the state’s Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP), with an additional 47,000 hectares to be allocated to new and prospective oil palm investors.


ESOPP, launched in 2019, is an initiative of the Obaseki-led administration to de-risk the oil palm value chain by providing contiguous land to investors for sustainable production, aimed at creating employment, improving the livelihood of members of the project communities, and regenerating the state’s forest belt.

With over 70,000 hectares of land currently under cultivation, the first phase has attracted upwards of $500m investment, the largest of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa.

While speaking during a meeting with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), Joseph ‘JD’ D’cruz, with other investors in oil palm in the state at the Government House, Benin City, Obaseki said the ESOPP programme, among other things, was aimed at addressing deforestation in the state.

According to the governor: “We are starting ESOPP 2 and we will be launching it next month. We are doing 47,000 hectares in the first instance. We will be using the learning from ESOPP 1 for ESOPP 2. I believe prospective investors for ESOPP 2 are here.

“Our programme is not for acquisition of land but how to help you invest in oil palm and reduce the risk involved, encouraging you, our investors, to come into the state to do business.”

He continued: “We emphasise the key advantage of the ESOPP programme, which is to use oil palm to reforest. This is the unique thing about the programme, which doesn’t cut down trees but goes to areas that have been deforested and where we cannot regenerate those forests into its natural state; we use oil palm as an interim zero-carbon idea to restore the environment.

“Oil palm has been demonstrated to be one of the most prolific edible fats in the world. In many parts of the world, people are not cutting down trees to grow oil palm.  This informed our policy and strategy in Edo State as we decided to invest in the key competitive and comparative advantages. Edo is the home of natural oil palm.”

While speaking on efforts by his administration to diversify the state’s economy, the governor said: “To achieve this, we have worked hard to create the enabling environment for investors, removed bottlenecks, and encouraged them, as well as creating the market for them.”


Obaseki stated, “we have taken interest in oil palm production and followed RSPO through because of the bigger picture of diversifying our economy, which is a large one. We must focus on agriculture as the mainstay, fast-tracking and uplifting the productivity from the sector, which has a huge value chain.”

The Chief Executive Officer of Saro Group of Companies and Chairman of ESOPP Agro Allied Limited, Mr. Rasheed Sarumi, while commending the governor for creating the right environment to support businesses and investment inflow, said investors in the state have used the state as a business case of how they can have transformation in Nigeria, led by government sticking to policies and leaving business for business people.

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of Foremost Development Services Limited, an intermediary Organisation to RSPO in Nigeria, Alhaji Fatai Afolabi, said Edo today is the number one oil palm producing state in the country.

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