The Farmers’ Day Celebration had returned to Obie, where the Green River Project was born in 1987. It was a project launched in response to a directive issued by the Nigerian Federal Government asking foreign oil companies to implement projects in support of local agricultural development. From these humble beginnings, the GRP today impacts thousands of agricultural households in the Niger Delta, to the extent that NAOC Managing Director, Lorenzo Fiorillo, in his opening remarks referred to the GRP as ‘the heartbeat of our company’.
The Green River Project, a flagship initiative of Eni under the operatorship of NAOC and its Joint Venture partners, held its 23rd Farmers’ Day Celebration on 23rd November 2019. It was a festive occasion with the flags of Nigeria, Italy and the NAOC JV - NNPC (60%), NAOC (20%), and Oando (20%) - fluttering high over the excited venue.
The impact of the project was evident in the faces of the GRP Farmers gathered for the occasion, as they danced around the arena in celebration chanting ‘GRP! Food for all!’ There were farmers from four NAOC operational States (Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta and Imo). But none could have been happier than Abaye Thomas, the winner of the coveted NAOC-GRP Farmer of the Year 2019, the highest of many prizes handed out by the company that day to reward performance in the last farming season. The Farmers’ Day culminated in a guided tour through the exhibition grounds with sights and sounds for all purposes.
In his remarks, Executive Vice President and Chairman of Eni companies in Nigeria, Guido Brusco, appreciated the support of the President of Nigeria, the host states, the communities, the farmers and all other stakeholders. He described the GRP as a vehicle for positive engagement between the company, the community and the government. He also referred to it as a perfect example of oil and soil working together for the benefit of the nation. More importantly, he drew the attention of the audience to the fact that the GRP was strongly aligned with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly No. 1 (no poverty), No. 2 (no hunger) and No. 17 (public-private partnerships). As evidence of the level of importance attached to the GRP by Eni, Eni’s Chief Development, Operations and Technology Officer, Stefano Maione was present at the event.
Suffyan Koroma, the Country Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), recognized NAOC JV’s efforts to ensure safe access to food and announced the organization’s commitment to further partnerships with the Company.