Imo State is one of the few states in the former region that realised the major role palm produce played in expanding the economic frontiers of the defunct Eastern Region. For example, the state established the multi-million naira oil palm plantation, Adapalm Nigeria Limited, located at Ohaji.
The state occupies a total land mass of 5289.48 sq kilometers and has a projected population of over 5million people with a population density of 574 persons per square kilometer, which makes it second to Lagos State.
The state is said to have the highest literacy level producing the highest workforce in the country. As the state is blessed with human resources, it is also blessed with abundant natural resources.
Some of the natural endowments in Imo include crude oil which is found in commercial quantity in Ohaji/Egbema, and some other parts of the state. The state also boasts of textiles, wood based industries, and gas and hospitality business.
Besides all these natural endowments, the state is a heaven for investment in palm produce.
This apparently explains why on assumption of office in May last year, Governor Rochas Okorocha, purchased several species of palm seedlings to boost palm production in the state.
His foresight in investing in palm produce in the state has tremendously paid off as the state now exports large quantities of palm oil and palm kernel outside the country, with much still left for local consumption.
The earnings from palm produce, has shot up the internally-generated revenue of the state by 20%, though this figure could not be ascertained from the relevant government agencies.
When Okorocha assumed office, he placed agriculture on the priority list, since he strongly believes that investment in this sector of the economy, would afford the rich and the poor, the opportunity to put food on their tables without much difficulty.
He has transformed the ailing palm oil industry in the state, known as Adapalm – changed its name to Imo Palm Industry, and restructured it completely for higher productivity.
Today, Imo Palm Industry is not only flourishing but has also provided employment to several hundreds of unemployed youths in the state.
Some of the youths who are not directly employed in the industry are encouraged to establish their own palm own oil plantations.
Likewise, the state government has come up with an investment package aimed at attracting investors to the business of palm produce. The package includes the provision of land, tax holiday, soft loans and labour.
It is expected that investors would take advantage of the fertile land in most parts of the state, to establish oil palm plantations, and oil mills in the state, just as was done in the defunct Eastern Region.
The state government strongly believes that an investment in the palm oil industry would yield tremendous dividends to both the state government and the investors, against the backdrop of the fact that this industry formed the mainstay of the economy of the former Eastern Nigeria.
The Imo State government has entered into negotiations with the Chinese government, to invest in palm oil production in the state.
It is hoped that the establishment of palm plantations, palm oil mills and palm produce-based industries in the state by the Chinese government or other investors would help reduce youth unemployment in the state, and at the same time shore up the revenue base of the state.
*Culled from Leadership*