‘Ghana needs to double palm oil output in next 10-15yrs'
The President of the Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana (OPDAG), Mr. Samuel Awonnea Avaala says the country needs to double its palm oil output in the next 10-15 years to become self-sufficient and save foreign exchange that could otherwise go into palm oil importation.
“We need as a country to double our output in the next 10-15 years so we can become self-sufficient in palm oil and save foreign exchange which could otherwise go into palm oil importation.”
Speaking at the Association’s first stakeholder meeting in Accra, which brought together major players in the industry, Mr. Avaala explained that one of the major constraints to production of the crop is challenges relating to land acquisition; despite the favourable natural resources, Ghana is a net importer of palm oil: “We buy more palm oil with our scarce resources than we produce.
“To ensure promotion of growth and development for the oil palm industry in Ghana, OPDAG will undertake strong consultations and advocacy work to ensure land acquisition becomes attractive to investors and growers who would like to expand their areas under production.”
He observed that in recent times there are a lot of cheap, sub-standard vegetable oils imported into the country, which gives unfair competition and disadvantage to the local industry.
The imported oils, he said, have significant negative impacts on the refining sector and a ripple-effect on the value chain, including farmers and all direct/indirect dependants in the palm oil sector. Such trade practices cause the loss of substantial revenue to government.
With appropriate duty, the palm oil sector will be able to attract investors to invest in the plantations which normally come with associated smallholder and outgrower schemes: this in the long run will increase local production of crude palm oil (CPO) and reduce importation of the commodity, thus reducing the import bill.
The country has about 10 key plantation companies, with their businesses creating employment in the oil palm sector for more than 240,000 people and also reducing the rural urban drift.
In addition to the above plantation companies, there are large numbers of smallholders and out-growers presenting enormous opportunities for employment and wealth-creation in the rural communities.
The out-growers in particular account for about 80% of the country’s total palm oil and palm kernel oil production; but sadly they are the least productive in crop production/yields, and technically deficient in product quality and extraction rates.