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Regional News Sat, 14 Feb 2004

Chiefs urged to release land to support the PSI

Juaben (Ash), Feb. 14, GNA - Traditional rulers and land owners have been urged to support the various President's Special Initiatives (PSI) by making land readily available to groups and individuals who decide to participate in the projects.

Mr Alan Kyeremanteng, Minister of Trade, Industry and President's Special Initiatives, who made the appeal, said land acquisition was the biggest challenge facing the successful implementation of the various PSI projects currently going on in the country.

Mr Kyeremanteng made the appeal at a durbar organised in his honour by the chiefs, out-grower farmers and assembly members of the Ejisu-Juaben District during his working visit to the Juaben Oil Mills factory on Friday to inspect a nursery project, being undertaking by the company under the PSI on Oil Palm.

The company, which is one of the 12 companies selected under the PSI to undertake oil palm nursery projects, currently has 211,000 oil palm seedlings, capable of planting 4,000 acres of oil palm fields in and around the Ejisu-Juaben area.

The nursery, which is being done with the state of art equipment and computer operated watering systems, employs about 651 people mostly women in the area.

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Mr Kyeremanteng said most people, especially the youth were eager to take advantage of the PSI projects, but the lack of land was impeding their efforts.

He gave the assurance that chiefs and landowners who released land for the PSI projects would become automatic shareholders in companies, which were going to be established under the PSI in their localities. Mr Kyeremanteng said the aim of the PSI was to identify additional sources of generating foreign income to the economy and encourage the establishment of industries in rural areas as a means of creating employment and wealth for the people.

He said for a long time, the country had not done enough to bring her oil palm industry onto the world stage.

The Minister said to address the fundamental problem facing the industry; the government had released 20 billion cedis to the Oil Palm Research Institute (OPRI) to develop appropriate and improved seedlings for cultivation under the PSI.

Mr Kyeremanteng commended the Juabenhene for playing a pioneering role in the oil palm cultivation and production in the country and urged other chiefs to emulate him and support the PSI to succeed. The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Akwasi Osei-Agyei, said the government had negotiated with the Indian government to supply 1,000 tractors to companies and industries in the country to undertake their businesses.

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Mr Osei-Agyei, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ejisu-Juaben, said the PSI would help improve the living standards of the people and urged them to take advantage and participate in oil palm cultivation.

Mr Sampson Kwaku Boafo, Ashanti Regional Minister, urged the out-grower farmers to form so-operatives to enable them get support from the government.

Nana Otuo Serebuo, Juabenhene and Managing Director of the Juaben Oil Mills Company, said the Juaben Traditional Council had released 1,000 acres of land to be given to individuals and groups who decided to go into oil palm cultivation.

He described the PSI on oil palm as "God send" opportunity to farmers in the country and urged them to take the opportunity to improve their living standards. Nana Serebuo said about 698 out-grower farmers in the area had been assisted to develop about 2,000 acres of oil palm fields in the area.

Source: GNA