Monday, March 23, 2015

Solidaridad holds capacity training for members of oil palm association

Solidaridad -- a not-for profit organisation that is interested in developing small- and medium-scale oil palm producers to be sustainable and profitable -- has held a two-day workshop for members of the Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana (OPDAG).
The workshop, which was held at Cape-Coast and funded by the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC), was under the theme “Sharing Experience and Knowledge of the Oil Palm sector in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana”.

It was attended by 74 oil palm farmers, millers, input suppliers, cooperatives and farm managers, from the Western, Central, Eastern and Volta Regions. It also brought together 10 members of the Cote d’Ivoire Association of Oil Palm producers.

It was to among other objectives enable participants to share their skills and expertise in the oil palm industry, and to promote in-depth knowledge of the Cote d’Ivoire private-public partnership oil palm industry.

The workshop was aimed at Ghana’s oil palm sector along the lines of the Ivorian oil palm regime, and was targetted at providing detailed explanations of the Cote d’Ivoire oil palm sector’s operations to members of OPDAG, and to provide and adopt best practices from the country’s West African neighbours. It was targetted at developing a vibrant sector, one dominated by small-scale farmers, to be more productive and profitable.

The Paramount Chief of Ashanti Juabeng traditional area, Nana Otuo Siriboe II who is also Patron of the OPDAG, speaking at the opening ceremony urged the government and other relevant stakeholders to prioritise plantation development and processing of Oil Palm to enhance industrialisation of the national economy. 

“Oil palm, like cocoa, if given the needed support would be among the highest job-creation avenues for the youth. There is enough land to embark on commercial production, but there is no infrastructural and microfinance support to help the industry grow and become sustainable.

He, therefore, urged the government to critically consider the sector as a major job-creation avenue and accord it the needed support and commitment to ensure its development and sustenance.

Nana Siriboe stated that next to cocoa, oil palm employs a high number of people with more than 300,000 people dependent on the sector for their livelihoods.

Mr. Samuel Avaal, President of OPDAG, said the oil palm sector in Ghana has been “taxiing” for too long and it is time to develop the industry such that it will no longer be a net importer but an exporter of oil palm to, particularly, land-locked countries in Africa.

“There is a huge market out there,” he said, and called on the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and other stakeholders to collaborate with OPDAG to take advantage of the market avenues available.
Mr. Brouzro Hermann  Djekouakou,  the Operations Manager of  the Association Interprofessional  Palmier  Huile (AIPH), making a presentation under the topic “Global Organisation of the Oil Palm sector in Cote d’Ivoire”,  said  more than 63,000 tonnes of oil palm is produced in that country, making it the  ninth -largest producer in the world, and second in Africa.

He said Cote d’Ivoire has more than 165 hectares of smallholder plantation; 75,000 hectares of industrial plantations; 40,000 farmers, 32 cooperatives and 16 mills with high capacity production; and 20 medium and small mills of small capacity.

Mr. Djekouakou said the oil palm industry has made strides in Cote d’Ivoire because of support from the government as well as the coming together of various associations and stakeholders in the sector, thereby making the sector one of the vibrant businesses in the country.

He said though the sector has chalked up some successes in terms of improving road networks in the country and creating jobs, it is challenged with meeting the high demand for oil palm products; participation in food security and improving the living conditions of the people; irregular supply of raw materials; and unfair competition.

Mr. Djekouakou proposed a stronger collaboration and partnership between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire to enhance growth and development of the oil palm sector.

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