He said like Cocoa, if the Oil Palm industry is given the needed support, it would be among the highest job-creation opportunities for the youth in Ghana.
Nana Siriboe who is the Patron of the Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana (OPDAG), made the call during a day’s capacity-building workshop for 74 oil palm farmers, millers, input suppliers, cooperatives and farm managers from the Western, Central, Eastern and Volta regions, in Cape Coast.
The workshop which was also attended by 10 members of the Cote d’lvoire Association of Oil Palm producers, was under the theme: “Sharing experience and knowledge of the oil palm sector in Cote d’lvoire and Ghana”
The workshop, organized by Solidaridad, a Dutch not-for-profit organization, and sponsored by the BUSAC Fund, was to among others, enable the participants to share their talents and expertise in the oil palm industry, and gain in-depth knowledge of the Cote d’lvoire private /public partnership oil palm industry.
Nana Siriboe pointed out that apart from cocoa, oil palm employed a higher number of people in the country, and regretted that the sector was not given the needed support and commitment to ensure its development and sustenance.
According to him, there was enough land to embark on commercial production, but that there was no infrastructural and micro-finance support to help the industry to grow, adding that more than 300.000 people depended on the sector for their livelihood.
He said as a matter of urgency, the government should critically look at the sector as a major job-creation avenue.
Mr Brouzro Hermann Djekouakou, Operation Manager of Association Interprofessionale Palmier Huile (AIPH), who spoke on “ Global Organization of the oil palm sector in Cote d’lvoire , ' said more than 63,000 tonnes of oil palm is produced in the Cote d’lvoire, making it the ninth largest producer in the world, and second in Africa.
He said Cote d’lvoire has more than 165 hectares of small holder plantations, 75,000 hectares of industrial plantations 40,000 farmers, 32 cooperatives, 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’lvoire, because of the support from the government, as well as the coming together of the various associations and stakeholders in the sector, thereby making it one of the vibrant businesses in the country.
He said though the sector had chalked some successes in terms of improving road network in the country, and creating jobs, it was challenged with the satisfaction of the high demands oil palm products, participation in food security and improving the living conditions of the people, irregular raw materials and un fair competition .
Mr Djekouakou called for a stronger collaboration and partnership between Ghana and Cote d’lvoire to enhance the further growth and development of the oil palm sector.
Mr Samuel Avaala, President of OPDAG, said the oil palm sector in Ghana has been “taxing” for long and that it was time to develop the industry such that it would no longer be a net importer but an exporter of oil palm to particularly land locked countries in Africa.
He said there was a huge market out there, and called on the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and other stakeholders to collaborate with OPDAG, to take advantage of the market avenues available.
Other topics treated at the workshop included “Institutional frameworks for development of the oil palm sector in Cote d’lvoire”, “sustainable funding of research and the external support in oil palm sector”, “ organization of agribusiness companies in oil palm sector “, “organization and support to cooperative and farmers”, “Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFB) and Crude Palm Oil pricing Mechanism system”, and “climate smart oil palm production in Ghana: a 20 year strategy to increase production and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.”