Olam Ghana, a cotton producing company operating in the Upper West Region, is expected to cultivate 30,000 hectares of cotton during this year’s cropping seasons as against 10,000 hectares it did last year.

The company engaged 8,000 farmers in the cotton production chain last year and it is expected to involve 25,000 farmers this coming farming season, Mr. Mritunjay Das, Business Head in-charge of cotton production, said this at the first Olam Ghana Farmers Day celebration at Tumu.

Cotton farmers from the nine districts in the region attended the Day which was organised to award the farmers for their hard work, dedication and commitment to the company.

Mr. Das said the company invested 10 million dollars in cotton production in the 2011 cropping season and would increase it to 35 million dollars this year to engage more farmers in the communities to cultivate cotton.

The company produced 8,000 tonnes cotton as against 10,000 tonnes it projected for the year, realizing a shortfall of 2,000 tonnes due to erratic rain fall pattern that characterized season.

Mr. Das said the company intended to increase the acreage to 100,000 hectares within the next four years when all farmers in the region are involved in cotton production.

“It is the intention of Olam to grow farmers and their income levels at the shortest possible time in the region,” Mr. Das said.

He said the company would make tractors, insecticides, fertilizers and other farm inputs available and deliver them to farmers at the appropriate periods to enhance production.

Dr. S. Bhatkulikar, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, said composite manure would be developed to help farmers replenish less fertile cotton fields.

Dr. Bhatkulikar said plans were advanced to provide some assistance to children of cotton farmers.

The company also intends to encourage farmers to uproot cotton stocks and sell them to the company to generate at least 50 megawatts of electricity to run the ginnery.

Kuoro Richard Babini Kanton, Paramount Chief of the Tumu Traditional Area, appealed to farmers to take cotton production seriously since it has the potential of improving their livelihoods.

He urged them to use the money they realised from cotton to take good care of their children’s education and the health needs of their families and avoid drinking alcohol with the money.

Kuoro Kuri Buktie Limann, Paramount Chief of the Gwollu Traditional Area, commended Olam Ghana for establishing factories in the country to add value to agro products.

He appealed to the company to consider establishing a shea butter extracting factory and an additional ginnery in the Sissala area.

He advised the farmers to avoid selling cotton to companies that do not support them to the disadvantage of Olam Ghana.

Mr. Issaka Giaka, Sissala East District Director of Ministry of Food and Agriculture, said chemical poisoning was a huge risk among farmers in the region and asked Olam Ghana to be more concerned about that.

“Let us not be more concerned about the yields that we got but the occupational health hazards among farmers and the degradation of the environment should be of a worry for all,” he said.

The farmers comprising 45 groups from four zones in the region were awarded with motorbikes, cash and farm inputs among others.

Olam Ghana said it cost it 150,000 Ghana cedis to organise the Day.

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