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Okowa advocates greater investment in agriculture

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The Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, on Friday called for more investments in agriculture in order to tackle food shortages in the country.

Okowa, who made the call after an inspection of an oil palm plantation and refinery under construction at Akwukwu-Igbo, Oshimili North Local Government Area of the state, said oil palm production was one major area that Nigerians should give priority attention in a bid to create jobs for teeming unemployed youths in the country.

He said: “Four years ago the management of Norsworthy Farms spoke to me when they were to commence and I thought it a worthy venture to have the state government stay supportive and in partnership with them to develop this oil palm plantation, now with a mill already being installed.

“We had some problems no doubt, but we thank God that our management team in the state government was able to walk around the corners with the various communities involved.

“Where we are now, is quite interesting because we have had the opportunity to go round the one thousand four hundred hectares of land, all planted with oil palm seedlings that have grown so much; some are already producing.

“As a state government we believe in this worthy partnership because beyond the fact that it will help to grow the economy of this environment and also help the immediate communities that are around here, we are very mindful of the fact that it is going to generate a lot of employment for our people.

“I have been told that on average, 300 persons are working on a daily basis in this place and I believe that when the mill comes on stream, we are going to have more persons engaged.

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“There are going to be a lot of multiplier effects and that’s what we are set out to achieve.

“In the partnership with Norsworthy, we are very mindful of the job creation effect and the fact too that they would be paying taxes at some point in time and that would help to also grow our internally generated revenue.

“The important thing is that I discussed with the management of Norsworthy and they assured me that with time they are going to encourage out-growers schemes in this place and get people outside the community to partner with them.

“This will help to increase the funding available to families who are ready to partner with the farm. And that is the key point in oil palm development.”

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