Solidaridad – West Africa, an International Non-Governmental Organisation, is assisting oil palm farmers in the country on how to improve upon their farms for maximum profitability through financial and technical support.
The support which is under the Sustainable West Africa Oil Palm Programme (SWAPP) is funded by the Dutch Government.
Interacting with the Daily Graphic during a field trip to some oil palm farms and an outreach programme with oil palm farmers in the Kwaebibirem district of the Eastern Region, the project coordinator in-charge of incubator of businesses and access to finance, which is a component of SWAPP, Ms Kosi Yankey, said the project sought to provide incubation support and access to risk capital to help grow businesses and accelerate the development of a larger and more productive oil palm sector in West Africa.
She said a total of 1.5 million Euros has been invested as risk capital to support small-scale and medium enterprises in the oil palm sector in Ghana while 1.8 million Ghana Cedis has also been disbursed to over eight organisations to improve their mill extraction and efficiency.
“Eleven companies under the incubator programme are receiving assistance to grow their businesses focusing on management, leadership, and financial skills among other facts to catalyze growth positive turn-over”, she added.
Miss Yankey said 20 small scale mill processors have also received financial and technical support to procure, install and operate 20 new screw press mills which are expected to promote more efficient technology in processing and increase oil production and revenue to farmers.
An agronomist on the project, Mr. Benjamin Gabla, said farmers were taught best management practices which include, ground cover, pest, canopy, rotational and soil managements, among others.
He said through these, most farmers had increased their yields. He advised oil palm farmers to adopt best practices and not to neglect their farms.
A beneficiary of the project, Mr. Yaw Awusie Antwi who owns a 350 acre oil palm plantation, commended the NGO for the support because according to him through best management practices, he has been able to increase the yields from his farm.
He appealed to other farmers to maintain their farms which would go a long way to improve their financial status.
One of SWAPP’s objectives is to improve the oil extraction rate and efficiency. Efficient milling is essential for mills to pay good prices for fresh fruit bunches that enable farmers to invest in better management of their farms along with increasing the quality of their livelihoods, yields and profit.
Ghana has more than 1200 small scale artisanal mills that produce close to 64 percent of the country’s Crude Palm Oil. Less than 8 percent of the total artisanal mills in Ghana use screw presses. A recent mill survey conducted by SWAPP revealed that about 85 percent of all local oil palm mills still use the digester and spindle press technology while only ten percent have switched to screw press.
Graphic : Graphic Online