In the last of the series ‘Left to Die’ for this year, Citi Business News turns its attention to the once vibrant oil palm industry, which used to provide foreign earnings for this country.
The industry which is almost on its knees has resulted in Ghana importing thousands of tonnes of palm oil from Malaysia for industrial purposes, while domestic use also grows.
According to the Malaysia Palm Oil Council, it is aiming at increasing its palm oil export to Ghana from about 200,000 tonnes to 300,000 tonnes by 2018.
This is estimated to cost Ghana about 210 million dollars’ worth of import next year, which translates to 2.2 percent of total imports of the country.
The Chairman of the Malaysia Palm Oil Council, Dato’ Lee Yeow Chor, in October this year, told journalists that the council intends to increase its export to Ghana due to growing demand.
“We are positive that the consumption of good quality palm oil from Malaysia will increase. We also want to promote other by-products, including soap, fatty-acid and palm kernel. We are more interested in pushing value added products,” he said.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, oil palm accounted for 75 percent of export revenue for Ghana in the 1880s.
Malaysia, which is currently dominating the world palm oil market started the establishment of oil palm plantations with planting materials from Ghana.
But, after over a hundred years, the tables have turned, and Ghana has rather increased its import of palm oil from Malaysia for industrial use.
For instance, by the first three quarters of 2017, Ghana imported 213,000 tonnes of palm oil from Malaysia, valued at149.1million dollars and representing more than 70 percent of total imports of the commodity within the period.
The 2017 import figure represents an almost 10 percent increase on the 2016 import of 203,000 tonnes.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Palm Oil Council is projecting a 20 percent increase in palm oil export to Ghana. According to the council, it sees the Ghanaian market as a growing one that has a huge appetite for palm oil consumption – particularly for the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods industry.
Mr. Chor states how the Malaysians intends to increase their export through the establishment of oil palm plantation in Ghana.
“Malaysian companies have entered into agreements with companies in Indonesia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Columbia and others, and we are looking at deals like that here. We are hoping to discuss incentives and government policies,” he said.
One time best farmer for the Western region and an oil palm plantation farmer, Issa Ouedraogo expressed his frustrations at the neglect of the industry.
According to him, government must invest in the sector to revamp the the oil palm industry.
But the Malaysians, are targeting about one million metric tonnes of palm oil supply to the West African sub-region with Ghana, being an important destination.
Mr. Issa Ouedraogo warns that Ghana may lose out on the numerous benefits of the plant if it neglects oil palm since it is a cash crop with numerous economic benefit and in high demand.
By: Lawrence Segbefia/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana