The Ghana Oil Palm Development Company Limited (GOPDC) has introduced a variety of oil palm seedlings that can grow and yield fruits for over 50 year instead of the normal life-span of 25 years, the company’s Managing Director, Gert Vandersmissen has said.
Speaking in an interview with the B&FT, Mr.Vandersmissen is hopeful of increasing its oil palm production capacity to about 60,000 metric tonnes in the near future with the introduction of the new variety.
Mr. Vandersmissen said: “The establishment of the company and its operational plantations is an integrated project for the community and the indigenes to benefit and to improve livelihood of farmers.
“There are some land owners and individuals residing in and around the company’s operational area who have not accepted to release their land for the cultivation of the cash crop which has the ability to transform their living conditions,” said Mr. Vandersmissen urging that such persons must reconsider their decisions to help promote co-existence between the company and the communities as this will ensure sustainable growth of the company.
During the company’s 20 years operation GOPDC has transformed its oil palm production models where it currently cultivates approximately 8,000 hectares of nucleus oil palm plantation out of a concession of 14,000 hectares, and provides financial and technical support to 6,000 farmers, who cultivate a total of 10,000 hectares of oil palm.
GOPDC runs a refinery/fractionation plant with a capacity of 100 tonnes per day with and an aggregate storage capacity of 21,000 tonnes both at Kwae, which is located near Kade and Tema.
The company presently owns two nucleus plantations at Kwae and Okumaning with a total concession of 14,000 ha, of which approximately 8,000 ha are developed.
Besides the nucleus estate, there are 349 ha of smallholdings within the concession. In addition to the above, the concession locates housing for Junior Staff, Senior Staff and Management Staff and all industrial and social infrastructures required for the well-functioning of such an industrial complex. Areas of natural and traditional value within the plantation are preserved.
About 6,000 farmers produced on contract for the Company. They represented the majority of the planted area with more than 10,000 ha under cultivation. These individual farmers cultivated small parcels of land within a radius of 30 km from the GOPDC processing plant.
The company’s processing facilities comprise a 60 mt/hr fresh fruit bunch processing mill, a 60 mt/day palm kernel mill, a 100 mt/day refinery and fractionation plant and 2mt/hr Palm Kernel Cake Pellet Plant.
In 2012, a jerrycan filling plant was added to GOPDC's industrial estate investment portfolio where the company's “King’s” brand vegetable oil is packaged into 5 liter and 25 liter jerry cans.
GOPDC supports the communities it operates in, not only through the results from its business operations, but through investment in education, health and the environment which are essential factors in social development with the aim of improving the living standards for the majority of the people.
Its corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme is aimed at augmenting the economic activity in its region of operation and in doing so it provides employment and income directly and indirectly to more than 50,000 people.
The company said it has spent about US$20million over the past 20 years, and released a total amount from its CSR budget annually to the communities on whose lands it is operating to assist in the development of their respective communities.
This act, the company explained is in line with an agreement the company signed with the various communities that provided land for the Kwae and Okumaning plantation projects.