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Oil palm plantation, cassava mill to cut import bill, create jobs

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Fatai Afolabi, consultant to DUFIL (right); the traditional ruler of the host communities, Enogie Iguoghr Omokaru and Manju Nathan, representative of the company during the EIA scoping presentation, recently.


• DUFIL acquires 18,000h-land for products
To internalise the backward integration policy and reduce importation of raw materials while developing the local economy, De-United Foods Industry Limited (DUFIL) has presented the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) scoping of its proposed 18,000-hectare oil palm estate and cassava flour mill to the host and government communities in Edo State.
 
Nigeria is said to import about 500,000 metric tonnes of crude palm oil yearly, and the DUFIL proposed investment in the plantation is expected to contribute to the efforts to close the gap between production and import.To this effect, the Edo State government has given a concession of 17,954.71 hectares of land within Ekiadolor Forest Reserve in Ovia Northeast Local Government Area of Edo State to the company to develop the two projects.
 
DUFIL intends to use a small part of the land (about six hectares) to establish the proposed cassava flour mill factory project. The entire land is covered by a statutory certificate of occupancy issued in the name of the company and the firm has registered the proposed project and applied for an EIA approval and permit from the Federal Ministry of Environment.
 
As part of the EIA process, DUFIL organised an EIA scoping workshop involving critical stakeholders, including some affected villages, government agencies, non-governmental organisations, the private sector operators and the media.
 
The project proponent made an official application for EIA Approval to the Federal Ministry of Environment on 20th of May 2019 and following the Federal Ministry of Environment initial site inspection and verification, the ministry placed the project in Category One with a one season baseline data gathering exercise to be augmented with data from relevant and approved valid EIA approval within 5km radius of the proposed project location.
 
However, the proponent was requested to conduct a scoping workshop with relevant stakeholders in attendance and regulators from the Federal and state Ministries of Environment as observers.The EIA scoping workshop report incorporating the critical issues raised and terms of reference are required to proceed to the next stage of the EIA process.Sequel to the foregoing, the EIA scoping workshop was conducted on 24 July 2019 at the conference hall of Best western Homeville Hotel, off Sapele Road, Benin City.

The cassava flour mill factory
One of the proposed projects is a cassava flour mill factory initiative by DUFIL. The proposed factory will have a capacity to process 200 tonnes cassava tubers per day. The firm presented to the stakeholders that the cassava peels would be composted for use at the 60-hectare oil palm nursery that would be established to raise the oil palm seedlings.
 
The factory development would also include ancillary utilities and infrastructure like offices, warehouses, water and power supply facilities. The vegetation of the project site is majorly degraded forests and farmlands. The proposed development would, therefore, not involve the clearing of primary forests.  There are no rivers in the vicinity of the project site; however, any sensitive habitats that may be identified proximal to the project site will be conserved.

Cassava roots are the raw materials to be used in the flour mill. These would be sourced from smallholder farmers and registered out-growers within reasonable radius of the project in Ovia Northeast local government area of the state.
 
The product of the project would be High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF). It would be used by the company for its downstream industrial processing and manufacturing of its range of products.
 
The project is expected to generate considerable solid and liquid waste. The solid waste to be generated from the cassava flour mill factory is majorly organic waste. The bulk of the organic solid waste (cassava peels) to be generated at the cassava flour mill factory would be processed into composts, which would be used in the oil palm nursery and plantation as organic manure.
 
The operation of the project would also generate liquid waste (effluent). The effluent to be generated by the cassava flour mill factory would initially be detoxified through impoundment and later treated by anaerobic digestion to produce biogas to generate electricity for domestic and industrial uses on the project site, the company explained.

Oil palm plantation
DUFIL also presented details of the proposed oil palm estate to stakeholders at the scoping workshop. It disclosed that about 2.3 million palm seedlings would be planted on about 15,000 hectares of the acquired land.The oil palm estate would comprise a palm seedling nursery and a plantation. The nursery would be used to raise seedlings for the plantations and for other farmers who might demand quality planting materials.
 
The consultant to the company on the project, Mr Fatai Afolabi, said the two proposed projects would result in economic benefits for the communities in ovia North-east local government, Edo State, and Nigeria through employment opportunities at pre-construction, construction and operational stages.

Direct and indirect jobs, tax revenue to the government, and multiplier effects on the economy through the likely improved disposable incomes of members of the communities and employees would boost the gross domestic products and circle flow of incomes in the country.
 
One of the key representatives of the host communities, His Royal Highness, the Enogie Iguoghr Omokaru, said expressed satisfaction over the choice of the local council area as the proposed site while commending the state government for granting approval for the company to operate in the state.
 
He also hoped that the company would contribute to the welfare of the communities through assistance in provision of water, road networks and social infrastructure to complement his investments on facilities for the communities.Present at the workshop were the communities, Ovia north-east council officials, the Nigeria Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR), Edo State ministry of Agriculture, the Federal Ministry of Environment, Environmental Development and Social Justice Initiative and the media.


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