The Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana (OPDAG) on Wednesday held its first ever Annual General Meeting & National Oil Palm Stakeholders Forum here in Accra to deliberate on the forward march of the association.
The Annual General Meeting was under the theme: “Oil Palm; Agenda for Growth and Jobs.”
Speaking in an interview with the media on the sidelines of the Annual General Meeting, outgoing president for the Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana (OPDAG), Samuel Avaala said Ghana is set to move away from a net importer to becoming a net exporter of palm oil.
According to him, OPDAG was currently in the process of assisting small holder and out growers of oil palm in the Eastern, Western, Central, Lower Volta and Ashanti Regions to adopt best management practices to double their production yields.
Mr. Avaala said the crop which contributes between 1.5 to 2 % of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has the potential to provide hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country.
He said, “About 70% of the production is coming from small holder and out growers in the Eastern, Western, Central, lower Volta, Ashanti Regions. The 30% is coming from the big, medium to large scale industrial players. The focus will be to help these 70% who are operating in the small out grower, small scale section to improve their yields. Their current yields can easily be doubled if they apply or take to best management practices and thankfully, Solidaridad has helped over a period of four and half years to develop evidence-based, they chose about -11 sites across the country where blocs were earmarked for the experiment and paired with the work as usual blocs and you could see the difference in the yields.
There is also avenue for expansion but doing so in the manner that is mindful of the environment, particularly deforestation and the rest. So, these are if you like, the building blocs that will take us from being a net importer to a net exporter of palm oil and this will come about with the development of another 100, 000 hectares on top of the already 300,000 hectares we already have; we will need another 100,000 hectares from scratch, using best management practice then we will become self-sufficient and this will come with lot of employment for our rural folks.”
The outgoing president further urged players to take advantage of the many opportunities the industry presents by leveraging on technology.
“Something is changing in the agricultural sector and that is the use of technology. Digitization is the next thing in this sector as elsewhere others are deploying drone technology to improve their lot. We can take advantage of that so that the banks will no longer consider our activity as dirty, dangerous and difficult hence will review their stance and fashion out policies that will readily provide credit facilities for us,” Mr. Avaala remarked.
The OPDAG is a private sector industry association with the mandate of promoting socially responsible and ecologically and economically sustainable production, value addition and consumption of palm oil and oil palm products in Ghana.
The Association as part of its 1st Annual General Meeting & National Oil Palm Stakeholders Forum will review and adopt its constitution as well as elect officers to steer the affairs of OPDAG for the next four years. Enditem