$4m sunflower oil imported into country annually
The country imports an average of $4 million worth of sunflower oil every year.
As a result, a sunflower project to bolster farmers’ capacity to go into large-scale cultivation of the crop has been launched in Accra.
Given the huge potential of one of the most sought-after oilseed crops globally, it would help to improve on the country’s socio-economic development.
The crop can be used to produce edible oil, biodiesel for energy generation and also improve food and nutritional needs of citizens.
Fish processing companies in the country export fish flakes in sunflower oil to the tune of $147 million each year.
Besides, the project would help to mitigate environmental pollution and degradation by using sunflower to reclaim degraded lands.
The initiative is being implemented by Tropical Agriculture and Marketing Consultancy Services (TRAGRIMACS), in partnership with the Crop Science Department of the University of Ghana, Legon, and the Chemistry Department of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi.
The Chief Executive of TRAGRIMACS, Issah Sulemana, said the country had the scientific and technological capacity to cultivate and process sunflower seeds into edible oil, biodiesel and other useful products such as animal feed.
“The use of biodiesel to generate power and for public transport can earn the country millions of dollars in carbon credit,” he added.
Mr Sulemana explained that the purpose for the reintroduction of the project, which he said ran successfully from 2006 until 2012, was due to the global decline in the production of the crop.
He said the war between Russia and Ukraine, two countries that produced 59 per cent of global sunflower oil, offered an opportunity for “us to come up again to implement the Ghana Sunflower project again”.
The chief executive expressed the optimism that farmers who cultivated the drought-resistant crop could make an average net profit of GH¢461 per acre.
On how the project could be sustained, Mr Sulemana said his outfit would partner the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre to add it to its investment portfolio as one of the viable projects in the country “to attract entities to come and invest in large-scale sunflower production”.
A lecturer at the KNUST Department of Chemistry, Dr Michael Baah Mensah, said with enough funding for research into sunflower, the two partnering universities would be able to clarify which seed variety was suitable for cultivation in the country.