Have you ever heard of a plantation tour? This is an educational tour where the history and origin of a plantation are shared with the tourists. Tourists get to hear tales of the communities around the plantation, the economic value of the plantation and see exhibits from the plantation.
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Plantation tours are quite popular in America as they showcase part of their slave trade history. They also happen in Nigeria howbeit unannounced. Some parents take their children to visit a plantation within their state during the children’s holidays. Other times, Nigerian schools organize excursions there for pupils and students within their academic calendar.
For those who don’t know the difference between a plantation and a forest, let’s clarify. A plantation is an estate on which crops such as coffee, palm oil, sugar, coconut, and rubber are planted for commercial purposes. And a forest is a large area covered chiefly with trees and undergrowth e.g. Nwgo Pine Forest. A forest contains multiple tree species that are planted or regenerated naturally, while a plantation contains only one tree species that are planted and may not occur naturally.
There are lots of plantations in Nigeria because we major in exporting raw materials to increase the foreign exchange we need to cover the costs of our imports. This is where Palm Oil Plantations come in. Between 1960 and 1966, Nigeria was one of the top exporters of palm kernels. But in 2015, CBN included Palm Oil in their list of 41 ineligible items for forex through the interbank market despite Nigeria currently being the 6th largest exporter of palm oil in the world.
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The largest Palm plantation in Nigeria with 4,310 hectares of land is the Adapalm Oil plantation in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government, Imo state. This plantation which was established in 1953 was called Ohaji Palm Settlement. But the name changed to Adapalm when it was acquired by Agricultural Development Authority Palm (Ada) in 1976. Europeans managed it till 1987 before indigenes took over.
With the nation’s focus turned from Palm products to Crude oil export, we left the potentials of this plantation. Thanks to Former Governor, Emeka Ihedioha’s administration that injected funds into the Adapalm Oil Plantation to revitalize and boost the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). In May 2020, Governor Hope Uzodinma boasted that the Adapalm plantation now churns out 120 tons of Grade A Crude Palm Oil monthly.
With the increase in the plantation’s daily output and the restoration of the oil installations within the area and the road leading to the Adapalm plantation, visiting the Plantation for tourism has become a tangible possibility. Already, at Assumpta Cathedral and Douglas Road junctions when coming into Owerri from Ogbuaku, there is a prominent billboard that says “I Kuona nkwu?” which means “Have you planted a Palm?” With one seedling costing N100, it primes the plantation for tourist activities like planting a palm.
The aerial view of this plantation is a delight to any travel enthusiast. A plantation tour of Adapalm Plantation which is just 40 minutes’ drive from Owerri can become a unique selling point for Imo state tourism. To visit, though, you may need to make tour arrangements with the general manager in advance. There is so much to see, learn and do at this luscious, green, massive plantation.
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