Nana Siriboe, who is the Patron of the Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana (OPDAG), gave the advice at a capacity building workshop, at Cape Coast.
It was attended by 74 oil palm farmers, millers, input suppliers, cooperatives and farm managers, from the Western, Central, Eastern and Volta regions.
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, was organized by Solidaridad, a Dutch Not -for -Profit organization, and sponsored by the BUSAC Fund.
It was to among other objectives enable the participants to share their skills and expertise in the oil palm industry to promote in-depth knowledge of the Cote d’Ivoire private-public partnership oil palm industry.
Nana Siriboe pointed out that next to cocoa, oil palm employed a higher number of people with more than 300,000 people dependent on the sector for their livelihoods.
According to him, there was enough land to embark on commercial production but that there was no infrastructural and microfinance support to help the industry to 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.
Mr Brouzro Hermann Djekouakou, the Operations Manager of the Association Interprofessional 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 was produced in that country, making it the ninth largest producer in the world, and second in Africa.
He said Cote d’lvoire had more than 165 hectares of small holder plantation, 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 had 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 the sector one of vibrant businesses in the country.
He said though the sector had chalked some successes in terms of improving roads network in the country and creating jobs, it was 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, therefore, called for a stronger collaboration and partnership between Ghana and Cote d’lvoire to enhance the growth and development of the oil palm sector.
Mr Samuel Avail, President of OPDAG, for his part, said the oil palm sector in Ghana had been “taxiing” for too long and 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.