The Federal Government has spent more than N90 million on the Integrated Oil Palm Processing Factory, Umuehihe Village in Imo.
Mr Ndubuisi Osuji, Permanent Secretary, Strategy and Policy Services Office, Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Owerri. He said that the project which was the first of its kind in the state, “is being replicated in all the states in the Niger Delta region to boost agriculture.’’
Osuji said that the project was executed by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to ease the stress the people of the community in processing palm oil. He added that the value chain of the produce from the factory would turn around the economic fortunes of the community, observing that there was huge economic potential in palm tree farming. He explained that the products from a palm tree included palm kernel, palm oil, palm wine and brooms, among others.
“Cultivating palms and producing oil is the major economic activity of the people in this village and they are very happy with the project. “The women of this community have suffered a lot in terms of manually processing palm oil, it is a very tedious job to do but with this factory, their stress will be eased.
“Besides producing high quality palm oil, the machines also cracks the palm kernel and its shell and its fibre are further used as a source of fuel for making fire,’’ Osuji said. The permanent secretary noted that the factory had four major components such as the factory building, the processing machines, borehole with its over head tanks and electricity generating machines, among others. Mr Ademuyiwa Ajiboye, the contractor of the project who also confirmed the amount spent on the project, said that the construction started in July 2017 and was completed without challenges. Mr Nwabueze Akobundu, the Managing Director, Basicon Engineering Ltd. that fabricated the machines, said that the factory would enable the farmers to make more money.
He said the factory was designed to produce one to five tonnes per hour and a storage plant was also designed to help the farmers preserve their oil for, at least, one year. Akobundu also said that the members of staff of the plant were trained on how to maintain the machines for sustainability, adding that the villagers would pay a token sum before processing their palm fruits. NAN reports that the factory was initiated by Mr Ndubuisi Osuji, Permanent Secretary, Strategy and Policy Services Office, Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation. The project was later executed by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs with all the machines locally fabricated and produced in the country.