As part of its oversight functions and obligations to the people of Imo State, A high Powered 7-man delegation of the Imo State House of Assembly has undertaken a facility tour of the Imo Palm Plantation (formerly known as Adapalm) at Ohaji in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area on Monday 21st of May, 2012, to assess the performance of the ROCHE GROUP Managing the establishment.
The delegation led by the speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Chief Benjamin Uwajumogu included the Deputy Speaker, Chief Donatus Ozoemena, the member for Ohaji/Egbema state constituency and House committee chairman on Agriculture, Hon. Luke Chukwu, the member for Ideato South State Constituency, Hon. Ikechukwu Amuka, the member for Oru-East state constituency, Hon. Barrister Greg Okemili, the member for Owerri West Constituency Hon. Nze Innocent Eke and the member for Nwangele State Constituency, Hon. Chief Ugonna Ozuruigbo (OZB).
Rt. Hon. Benjamin Uwajumogu while addressing the Management of ROCHE-IMO PALM Plantation expressed satisfaction at the rapid progress being made in the transformation of the Agricultural outfit. He urged the workers to remain committed to their responsibilities and duties to enable the ROCHE management team succeed in revitalizing the plantation.
According to Speaker Uwajumogu, the leasing of the establishment was not an easy decision to take but assured that if the ROCHE group sustains its own side of the agreement, the State government would endeavor to keep its own side of the bargain. He pledged that the government would clear the severance and leave allowances and 18 months salary arrears of the Imo Palm Plantation workers.
The Ebullient and vibrant legislator also commended the ROCHE management for implementing social responsibility scheme in the host communities which would nurture harmonious relationship and peaceful co-existence. The premier of the former eastern region Sir Dr. M. I. Okpara and the former governor of the old Imo State Dee Sam Onunaka Mbakwe were also commended for their foresight in establishing the Farm during their regimes, while a call was made on politicians and aspiring leaders to emulate the vision in setting up similar enduring legacy.
Contributing, the member for Ohaji/Egbema state constituency, Hon. Chief Luke Chukwu who is also the Chairman House Committee on Agriculture thanked the Management of ROCHE Group for the success so far achieved in resuscitating the palm plantation especially the oil mills at Ohaji and Umuogu. Hon. Luke Chukwu popularly called THE FARMER however lamented that the defunct Adapalm now called Imo Palm Plantation owed many of its workers and palm oil buyers. Also the member for Nwangele state constituency Hon. Chief Ugonna Ozuruigbo moved by the achievements of the Palm Plantation Management promised to facilitate the installation of MTN Mast at the farm settlement for enhanced telecommunication services.
Speaking earlier, the Managing Director of the ROCHE-IMO PALM PLANTATION, Mr. Neil Danby disclosed that roads have been opened up in the plantation for unhindered harvesting of oil palm fruit bunches and that the Company has increased its production capacity by at least 20 percent. He expressed delight over the performance of the workers and went on to describe the estate manager of the plantation, Mr. Saggas as the best in the country.
Mr. Danby assured that the existing palm trees which are aging are to be gradually replaced with high-yielding TENERA variety which is now being raised in the nursery to the tune of over 80,000 seeds.
According to Mr. Danby, with the expected increase in the palm oil production, the Company would eventually embark on exports of their various products.
To sustain its social responsibility programme in the host communities, he disclosed that the establishment would collaborate with the Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) in empowering its youths. The Managing Director also stated that under its micro-economic development programme, there would be 18 skills acquisition centres located in the 18 communities in Ohaji.
The commercial manager, Mr. Reginald Okereke commended the Imo State House of Assembly for supporting His Excellency Owelle Rochas Okorocha in concenssioning the defunct Adapalm to the ROCHE group, pointing out that the workers suffered so much under “Adapalm”. He also expressed happiness and joy that the workers now receive their salaries, allowances and other benefit which have consequently restored the potentials of the plantation. Mr. Okereke assured that ROCHE- IMO PALM Plantation would not fail NDI-IMO.
In his opening address, the Chairman of Imo Palm Plantation workers Union, Chief (Comrade) Paul Nwankwo pledged the continued support of the workers to the ROCHE GROUP Management team. He expressed satisfaction with the take-over of the plantation under the leadership of Mr. Danby whom he described as competent, friendly and a hardworking man. Comrade Nwankwo however appealed for the payment of their severance and leave allowances and 18 months salary arrears owed by the defunct ADAPALM.
The Highlight of the delegation to Imo Palm Plantation was the visit to various sections of the plantation: the nursing section, the mill section and the palm plantation section etc.
Submitted by: Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha
Office of the Speaker, Imo State House of Assembly