ACCRA, (Xinhua) --
Stakeholders meeting here on Tuesday were
optimistic that Africa could revive the dwindling fortunes of
its palm oil industry to make it its next hot export
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”.
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
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
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
Prior to the advent
of cocoa, palm oil was one of Africa’s leading export
commodities, providing for the demands of Europe.
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.
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.