The day-long forum organized by Solidaridad West Africa and Proforest, two international agro-based Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), with the support of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO ), was under the theme ?Sustainable Palm Oil in Africa: Getting it Right from the Start?.

palm oil
palm oil
It brought together oil palm growers, civil society organizations (CSOs), financial institutions, development partners, governments and key experts to share knowledge and experiences in the oil palm value chain.
The forum seeks ways to enable palm oil to regain its lost grounds as the number one export commodity from the continent.

?For Africa to remain competitive in the rapidly changing palm oil market, there is the need for conscientious efforts by all players to mainstream sustainability into palm oil production and supply chain,? Fifi Fiavi Kwetey, Ghana?s Minister of Food and Agriculture, said at the opening.

He said sector players, including small growers and artisanal millers, often overlooked in spite of their enormous contribution to total output, must be repositioned to play their roles in a more sustainable manner.
Artisanal millers and smallholder farmers contribute about 80 percent of Africa?s total annual output.

The minister said the importance of the forum was in the fact that it offered producer countries from the region a common platform at ?this critical time to share their experiences and ideas to address the challenges in the sector and chart a common path towards achieving sustainability?.

Ghana and other African countries, including Nigeria, Cameroon, Cote d?Ivoire, Gabon and Liberia are also part of the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (TFA 2020) initiative aimed at promoting a prosperous palm oil industry which brings jobs and wealth to local communities.

?It is my belief that the synergy between TFA 2000 initiative and this forum will go a long way in facilitating the uptake of sustainability in the palm oil sector in the region,? Kwetey added.

Prior to the advent of cocoa, palm oil was one of Africa?s leading export commodities, providing for the demands of Europe.

Caecilia Wijgers, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of The Netherlands in Ghana, noted that the Dutch government had made funds available at the embassy for the revamping of the oil palm industry.

?There is the need to transform these grants into real catalysts for change to stimulate small numbers to start to do things in a sustainable manner to ensure sustainability in the sector,? Wijgers said.

Delle Kpebessan, Regional Program Manager for Palm Oil at Solidaridad, said there was the need for governments across Africa to create the enabling environment for the palm oil industry to rise again.

He said West Africa needed to move away from mono-cropping; depending on cocoa alone, as a source of foreign exchange and bring back palm oil into the mix.

According to him, with the right agronomical methods, there would be an increase in the yield from the paltry 2.5 tons per hectare as produced generally in Africa to between 20 tons and 25 tons per hectare.

?We also need to raise the awareness for farmers to do things in a sustainable manner in order to deal with the environmental issues associated with palm oil production,? Kebessan stressed. Enditem.

Source: Xinhua


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.