The industrialists who represent the Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana (OPDAG) have thus called for a concerted response to check the proliferation of illegal importation of palm oil products into the country in order to safeguard the wellbeing and safety of consumers and the industry.
“There is huge importation of palm oil into the country which is not going through the appropriate processes of clearing at the ports, and this is affecting the price in the local market,” a lead player and a Paramount Chief of Ashanti Juabeng, Nana Otuo Siriboe II who is also the Patron of the OPDAG, told B&FT in Cape Coast on the sidelines of a two-day workshop that brought together Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire oil palm players.
The workshop was organised by Solidaridad, a non-governmental organisation, with additional funding from the BUSAC (Business Sector Advocacy) fund to partly support the revitalisation of the GOPDA -- which was formed some years ago to actively serve as a mouthpiece and promoter for Ghana’s Oil Palm sector.
Additionally, the workshop which aimed at Ghana’s oil palm sector along the lines of the Ivorian oil palm regime 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.
Nana Siriboe II explained that the substandard oil comes with high fatty concentration, which is harmful for human consumption.
“We are prompting the attention of government to these issues so that they will tighten the borders and ensure that the oils coming into the country meet the quality standard and are properly priced to bring in more revenue for the country,” he said.
He cited when Nigeria -- Africa’s most populous and biggest economy -- faced a similar challenge of adulterated and substandard oil palm produce, the country’s policymakers placed a total ban on the importation of cooking oil; a move he expects Ghana to replicate.
It is widely speculated that most of the substandard palm oil products are imported into the country from the Far East countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia among others.
“We believe that the government and the key stakeholders of this nation have the same clear objectives and intention at heart, which is to ensure that the local farmers and industries continue to operate in a conducive environment that will not only increase employment but also enable stimulation of demand for locally manufactured products that will lead to growth in the industrial sector.”
Mr. Samuel Avaala, President of the OPDAG, explained that Ghana has enough human resource capabilities to grow the oil palm industry and challenged government to come to the aid of farmers and industry operators to help transform the operations, which hold great potential for the economy in the area of employment generation and improving standards of living for the rural poor in the value chain.
Ghana’s domestic annual palm oil consumption is about 370,000 metric tonne in refined and crude form, and the country imports 260,000 metric tonnes of palm oil.
Local production including Nuclease estate, smallholders, outgrowers and private holders is about 135,000 metric tonnes.
It is envisaged that domestic consumption of palm oil in the country will increase rapidly owing to the increase in population. Currently, ECOWAS accounts for 4.6% of the world population, with 336 million, and 2040 forecasts reckons on more than 600 million people – demanding an urgent revival of the palm segment to meet growing demand for the oil.
With employment generation potentials, an oil palm plantation raises the living standards of rural people by providing employment to thousands of inhabitants and alleviating poverty.
OPDAG employed approximately 3,500 workers for plantation activities, and in refinery only 25 workers -- just to illustrate the palm sector’s importance in terms of employment creation.
Plantations like OPDAG, BOPP, TOPP, Norpalm, Juaben Oil Mills, Ameen Sangari, Adansi Oil Mills, Ayiem Oil Mills, APM/SOCFINAF and Appiah Menkah Complex, Schemed smallholders, Independent Farms, outgrowers and Individual farmers create employment in the palm segment for more than 290,000 people.