Palm oil producers hold forum
Small-scale oil palm growers and other stakeholders in the Eastern and Ashanti Regions on Thursday met at the Ghana Oil Palm Development Company (GOPDC) at Kwae, to deliberate on sustainable practices in small-scale palm oil production.
The meeting, which was convened at the instance of GOPDC, was to enhance broad consultation on how Ghana could produce sustainable palm oil in accordance with the requirements of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
It was sponsored by Solidaridad of Netherlands, Chemico Limited and GOPDC.
The RSPO was established in 2003, to address bad practices in the oil palm cultivation and palm oil production.
It was to promote the production, procurement and use of sustainable palm oil.
The RSPO in that regard had developed a certification system for growers, millers, processors and other stake holders along the supply chain.
Among the participants were District and Regional Directors of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, officials of the Land Valuation Division, the Environmental Protection Agency, District Chief Executives and Assembly Members of some selected districts.
Others were research centres, such as the Oil Palm Research Institute, Kusi and the Agricultural Research Centre of the University of Ghana, Legon, at Okumaning, the Juaben Oil Mills and small- scale producers of the GOPDC catchments area.
Also present were chiefs and queen mothers as well as family heads of the GOPDC catchment’s area and representatives of the Okyenhene, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin and the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
Participants were welcomed by the Managing Director of GOPDC, Mr W. Pirijns and the Co-ordinator of the National Interpretation Working Group for Ghana (GNIWG), Miss Anke Massart.
Miss Massart said the GNIWG was established in September 2009 to develop a National Interpretation of the Sustainability Principles and Criteria of the RSPO.
She said there was the need to adopt good practices in the cultivation and processing of palm oil of international standards.
Miss Massart, who is also the Director of Agriculture of GOPDC, explained that, driven by ever increasing global demand for edible oils, the past few decades had seen rapid expansion of palm oil in the tropics.
From the 1990’s to the present time, the areas under oil palm cultivation had increased enormously, mostly in Malaysia and Indonesia, the world’s largest producers of palm oil.
She said whiles better managed plantations and oil palm small holdings served as models of sustainable agriculture, in terms of economics performances as well as social concern and environmental responsibility, there was serious concern that not all palm oil was being produced sustainably at present.
She warned producers that if by 2015, they did not adopt sustainable practices their product would not be patronized by international consumers.
A member of the GNIWG, Mr E. K. Wiafe, took participants through the eight principles and criteria for sustainable palm oil production.
These included commitment to transparency, compliance with applicable laws and regulations, commitment to long-term economic and financial viability, and use of appropriate best practices by growers and millers.
The others were environmental responsibility and conservation of natural resources and biodiversity, responsible consideration for employees and of individuals and communities affected by growers and mills, responsible development of new plantings and commitment to continuous improvement in key areas of activity.
The Deputy Managing Director of GOPDC, Mr Lawrence Atsrim, who chaired the meeting, asked participants to spread the knowledge acquired to others to adopt sustainable practices in small scale palm oil production.