The Governor of Edo state, Godwin Obaseki has affirmed his administration’s readiness to reposition the state as the foremost in cultivation and processing of rubber for foreign exchange earnings.
The governor stated this while receiving the management of the Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria (RRIN), Benin on a courtesy visit at the Edo Government House in Benin on Monday.
Obaseki noted that rubber once served as a source of foreign earnings for the country before the discovery of crude oil.
He, however, said that as crude oil could no longer sustain the economy of the country, it was worthwhile for the state to invest in rubber production as it had all the resources to do so.
“Rubber is a global commodity; we are going to look at the global price for the commodity and work on how to improve on the business in the state,” he said.
He also said that his administration was planning to create a master plan for rubber production and was ready to collaborate with the institute to achieve the feat.
“We want to know the location and soil types where rubber can do well in the state.
“We want to agree on how much land we want to make available for rubber cultivation, the quantity of yield to expect and to know the key investors.
Obaseki, however, said that the state government would not be directly involved in rubber production but would give the needed support to boost and sustain rubber production.
“Our own is to support local farmers and investors to grow rubber plantation.
“We need to understand the whole value chain and the stakeholders in the rubber cluster, to make Edo a key rubber producing region on the continent.”
The governor promised to rehabilitate the major road leading to the rubber institute and include the institute in the state proposed 5 megawatt electricity project.
He called on the institute to partner with the state government in revamping the Ministry of Agriculture, especially its crop session, going by its vast human capacity and technical know-how.
The governor said that the state would like to adopt a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the institute that would allow for interchange of human capacity between the two parties.
Obaseki, therefore, requested a roundtable with the institute to be attended by other stakeholders to put about 100,000 hectares of land for rubber plantation in Edo in the next 5 years.
Earlier, the acting Executive Director of the institute, Airguamen Aigbodion, said the institute had developed rubber clones capable of yielding 2,500kg per year.
He said the clones were believed to be some of the highest yielding clones in the world.
Aigbodion further said the institute was involved in providing technical assistance in all aspects of rubber production to farmers and capacity building for youths and women group involved in rubber production.
He urged the state government to collaborate with the institute in the development of rubber nursery and budding operations to enhance production of planting materials for plantation establishment.