Business News of 2014-03-20

YARA lends support to oil palm sustainability in Ghana.

Yara Ghanalimited, a leading mineral fertilizer company in the Country has embarked on an Oil Palm training programme aimed at promoting the Suitability of Oil Palm production in Ghanathrough the improvement of yield and the integration of the different facets of the industry.

The Programme which is in Collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) in the Eastern, Central and Western Regions has so far covered four (4) districts in the Western Region namely Mpohor, Wassa West, Wassa East and Agona Nkwanta and Seven (7) districts in the Central Region.
Participants at the training programme were introduced to the new YaraMila Palmae fertilizer. The YaraMila Palmae is an NPK fertilizer uniquely designed for Oil Palm nutrition that also has additional magnesium and boron needed in oil palm nutrition as trace elements to improve on the current average yield of 5mt per hectare to about 20mt per hectare.

The YaraMila Palmae has the potential to increase Ghana’s total volume for oil palm export, meet local demand and ultimately increase farmer incomes.
Addressing the Media after the training Workshop Mr. Henry Otoo,Market Development Manager of Yara Ghana said “Oil Palm is fast becoming an indispensable crop which is catching up on the global scene it is therefore important to strategically position the players of the industry especially farmers to enable them rightfully benefit from the imminent growth of the sector?.

He said interesting to note that since 1984 the price of Cocoa has been volatile falling consistently by an average of some 1.2 percent yearly till it peaked in 2003, declined again and peaked once more in 2008(FAO, 2009) whereas that of Oil Palm has been increasing consistently since 2002(USD 400/Mt) to USD 1200 in 2010.(MPOB,2012).

He noted that Oil Palm is the most effective crop employed in developing countries to get their citizens out of poverty. Adding that it’salso appropriately used in land reclamation programs.

Mr.Otoo Stressed that Ghanaas a country has had a comparative advantage of growing Oil Palm since the 18th century. However, lower yields and the lack of technology to improve upon production continue to hamper the fortunes of the industry.

He said that it was recently revealed that new varieties of Oil Palm are capable of increasing the yield by three times more and If further research to stabilise this yield potential is undertaken through international collaboration, palm oil can be a sound candidate to help solve not only future food shortages but also the bio fuel need of the world.

“Ghana has a total of 387,000ha of oil palm under cultivation which forms just 7% of the total production within the West African sub region. The average yield per hectare of oil palm is between 3-7Mt/ha compared to that of 20-33 Mt/ha in Malaysia, where only 26% of production takes place. Ghana currently has an unmet demand of 35,000 tons of palm oil. The estimated unmet demand in the ECOWAS sub-region alone is 850,000 tons (SRID, 2010)”. He noted

According to Mr. too the yield per hectare in Ghana is quite low compared to other oil palm producing countries but the potential to increase yield is there, the challenge has been due mainly to the underutilization of fertilizer in the oil palm sector especially among the small holder farmers who incidentally are also utilised as out growers for the corporate farms. Indeed a bulk of the oil palm cultivation about 80 percent is done by small holders in Ghana.

As shown in the table below

COUNTRY YIELD/HA (Mt) PLANTED AREA (ha)
INDONESIA 22-33 10,000,000
MALAYSIA 20-33 5,000,000
GHANA 3-7 387,000
BRAZIL 20-33 150,000
GUATEMALA 34 120,000
PHILIPPINES 20-30 72,670

Mr Otoo indicated that Yara Ghana has partneredthe ministry of food and Agriculture to come out with a detailed program involving three regions (Western, Central and Eastern)with the highest land area under Oil Palm to train farmers on the production technology and the issue of increasing yield through proper crop nutrition strategies.
Participants after the training programme expressed genuine appreciation to Yara Ghana for the program since there has never been any specific training in Oil Palm production for a long while. Adding that Oil Palm Farmers will also receive the same attention that Cocoa farmers have been receiving.

Mr.P.A.Boateng an Oil palm farmer, who has oil palm farms in the Ekumfi District of the Central region, says ?this training has been very helpful to us farmers and I hope Yara will organise these training programs often ?

The Yara Ghana team iscommitted to drive this a very successfulcampaign as was the Healthier Cocoa Campaignto make YaraMila Palmae the fertilizer of choice among the oil palm community and to help develop the sector in Ghana, improve yields, push Ghana up the ladder of leading oil palm producing countries and ultimately improve the quality of life of the oil palm farmer in the country.Source: INFOCUSPRLtd
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