Experts attend conference on sustainable palm oil production

Accra, Sept. 8, GNA – Experts are attending
a two-day Africa Sustainable Palm Oil Conference in Accra, to discuss how to
position businesses on the continent to adopt best practices in sustainability.

Organised jointly by Proforest, Roundtable
on Sustainable Palm Oil and Solidaridad, the meeting is also seeking ways to
mainstream small producers’ ability to access global supply chains.

Speaking at the opening session, Dr Ahmed
Yakubu Alhassan, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, said Africa is
producing less than it consumes and increasing investment in the sector would
help provide jobs, improve local economies and reduce rural poverty.

Currently, Africa produces about five per
cent of global output of palm oil but consumes at least 10 per cent.

Dr Alhassan said closing the gaps in the
sector and producing oil palm sustainably would require concerted efforts from
governments, regional bodies, research institutions, private financiers,
investors, and technocrats, to ensure the proper understanding and utilization
of oil palm.

He said small growers and artisanal millers,
who contribute about 80 per cent of Africa’s total annual output, must be
repositioned to play their roles in a more sustainable manner so as not to be
outplayed in the market.

According to the Roundtable for Sustainable
Palm Oil smallholders account for 70– 90 per cent of oil palm producers in
Africa.

Dr Alhassan said it is important that palm
oil refiners, manufacturers and other actors who influence the sector directly
and indirectly come together to find ways of reducing the likely negative
impacts and increase its benefits.

Meanwhile, Dr Alhassan said Cabinet has
given approval for the setting up of the Oil Palm Development Board and that
the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Attorney General would soon work
on the modalities as well as legal instruments to ensure the operations of the
board.

Mr Abraham Baffoe, Africa Regional Director
Proforest, said the workshop sought to build a shared understanding of TFA 2020
and to translate commitments into actions.

The TFA 2020 is a public–private partnership
bringing together companies, governments and civil society with a shared goal
of reducing tropical deforestation across the globe.

Its focus is on agricultural commodities
such as palm oil, soy, pulp and paper, and beef products, which drive more than
50 per cent of such deforestation.

Leading palm oil producing countries in
Africa, including Ghana, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Gabon, Liberia and Nigeria
are engaged in the Initiative.

Experts said investment in the palm oil
sector in Africa is growing with the potential to provide jobs, improving local
economies and reducing rural poverty.

Future growth in the sector is expected to
help close the palm oil deficit and position the region to be a net exporter of
palm oil.

Oil Palm is known to have originated in
Africa. Its cultivation has hitherto been on a small scale – primarily as
village low-yield multi-crop stands.

GNA

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