The Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana (OPDAG) has repositioned itself in its quest to ensure that Ghana moves from being a net importer of palm oil to a net exporter of the commodity in the next five to 10 years.
Subsequently, the association has been revived to make it a formidable force to champion the cause of its members in particular and the country at large.
The President of OPDAG, Mr Samuel Avaala, told a press conference prior to the launch of the association in Accra that it was unfortunate for Ghana with all the favourable natural resources to buy more palm oil with scarce resources instead of tapping its local capacity to produce to feed the market and for export.
He said OPDAG was determined to ensure that palm oil became the second commodity after cocoa in terms of foreign exchange earnings.
“As a country we need to double our output in the next 10 to 25 years to become self-sufficient in palm oil and save foreign exchange which otherwise goes into its importation. As an association, we have come to believe that we cannot sit and look up to the government and its ministries and agencies alone to get us out of this situation. We as actors in the industry have a part to play to collaborate with the government and all stakeholders to make Ghana a net exporter,” he said.
OPDAG and challenges to production
OPDAG is made up of actors in the entire value chain of the oil palm sub-sector. These include small and medium to large-scale oil palm growers and processors, refiners, manufacturers, marketers, suppliers and distributors.
Mr Avaala said hindrances to land acquisition, inadequate funding and limmited credit facilities and low research and investment remained constraints to the sub-sector.
“OPDAG will like the government to, as a matter of urgency, protect the local palm oil industry by lending support. With the appropriate duty, the palm sector will be able to attract investors to invest in the plantations which in the long run will increase local production of palm oil and reduce its importation,” he said.
Solidaridad, a Dutch not-for-profit organisation, and the BUSAC Fund are providing support for the association to achieve its objectives.
Need for a board
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, urged the ministry and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) to jointly oversee the establishment of a Palm Oil Development Board, as a precursor to uplift the oil palm industry.
Such a board, he said, would have oversight responsibilities over policies, regulations and possible legislations that relate to the industry.
“In the interim, there is the need for a palm oil stakeholders’ forum to analyse and outline the teething needs of the various actors, including funding options, and scrutinise the growth paths of countries such as Brazil, Malaysia, Indonesia and Cote d’Ivoire to guide the mandate of the board and the oil palm value chain to impel growth,” he said.