A bill to enhance the production of oil palm in the country is expected to be passed by Parliament and implemented from next month, the African Regional Director of Pro-forest, Abraham Baffoe has said.
The bill, when implemented, will be followed by the establishment of a Tree Crop Authority which will, among other things, monitor the production of all major tree crops in the country.
In an interview with Citi Business News at the sidelines of the 3 Africa Sustainable Palm Oil Conference, Mr. Baffoe said the Bill is key in ensuring Ghana moves from being a net importer of palm oil to a net exporting country.
“The draft bill which is now the Tree Crop Bill is with parliament and the reason for this is that over the last two to three years we have been working with the Ministry of Agriculture to improve government involvement and management of the oil palm sector”.
“There are a lot of issues to be addressed if we want Ghana to be self-sufficient in the palm sector and to improve productivity and maybe become a net exporter of palm oil rather than a net importer. We started developing the bill until last year when the Ministry of Agriculture decided that instead of having a bill only for palm why not one for tree crops”.
“So we changed it to a tree crop bill and now it’s with the parliament for approval hopefully I’m sure by the next month or so it will be approved and then we can deal with the issues in the palm sector”.
In Africa, it is estimated that smallholder production accounts for an average of approximately 70% of palm oil output and in Ghana alone, there are over 20,000 independent smallholders.
Palm oil development is an opportunity for employment, income generation, and socio-economic development
Currently, Ghana imports 50,000 tons of palm oil yearly which compares with the 300,000 hectares of land that are used to produce the crop in the country.
On his part, Technical Manager for the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, RSPO, Elikplim Agbitor called on all stakeholders in oil palm production to adopt RSPO in the production process, this he says will significantly increase production in a sustainable way.
The 3 Africa Sustainable Palm Oil Conference was organized by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in partnership with Proforest. It was on the theme of sustainable palm oil, a shared responsibility .
RSPO IN AFRICA
West Africa is both the origin and a new frontier for oil palm production. It produces approximately 6% of global palm oil, and RSPO’s engagement in Africa is growing with 70 members and counting. RSPO established a physical presence in the region, with the first staff member joining in July 2017 in Ghana, and a second joining in Cameroon by September 2018.
(by Anita Kissi-Mireku)