The Chairman of the Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP) Agro-allied Services, Mr. Raheed Sarumi, highlighted the positive impact of the program on the reclamation of degraded forests and the welfare of local communities. He reaffirmed ESOPP’s steadfast commitment to supporting Governor Godwin Obaseki and the Edo State Government in their efforts to champion reforestation and sustainability initiatives through the Forestry Commission. Mr. Sarumi expressed these sentiments during the official launch of the Edo State Forestry Commission in Udo, Ovia South West Local Government Area, on June 8, 2023.
In his speech, Mr. Sarumi emphasized the strong partnership between ESOPP and investors, emphasizing that the program was established to fulfill the State Government’s vision of recovering degraded forest areas and utilizing them for beneficial purposes such as oil palm development and environmental sustainability.
“The relationship between oil palm and forestry is multifaceted, and the ESOPP program plays a crucial role in driving and promoting reforestation,” stated Mr. Sarumi.
“Firstly the concessions that have been issued are degraded forests, so planting oil palm is some sort of orderly recovery in a sustainable manner. Secondly, the oil palm investors are also working to ensure that five to ten per cent of the concession areas are put to reforestation.
“But more importantly, we also have part of the allocated areas that have been mapped out for High Carbon Stock (HCS) and High Conservative values (HCV), these areas are of socioeconomic, cultural and environmental importance to the people and the State, they are left untouched and respected.”
Mr. Sarumi underscored the significance of the partnership between ESOPP investors and the ESOPP Independent Implementation Office (IIO) in developing a meticulously designed, inclusive, and sustainable approach to acquiring land. This strategy ensures that the welfare of local communities remains paramount throughout the process.
In his words, “In ESOPP we carry out the Participatory Boundary Establishment (PBE) Exercise which means all concessions have been demarcated by understanding with different communities.
“We also undertake the Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) exercise where we work with the communities to understand their social needs and address them through the development of the concession in partnership with the State Government.
“Another thing we have done is we have shared with the State Government our community action plans and those activities have direct social impacts on the different communities.
“Some of the companies such as Dufill, Saro Africa, and Fayus, have since commenced some of these activities which have been independently visited by the State Government and the ESOPP Independent Implementation Office”.
While ensuring the newly launched Forestry Commission of ESOPP’s continuous partnership the Chairman prayed for the commission’s irrevocable commitment to working with all partners and investors in ensuring that the reforestation programme is properly implemented.