Regional News of Saturday, 24 November 2012

Source: Ransford K. Agyemang, Mankesim

Palm Oil Producers Advocates For Hydro Electric Power

To Boost Production

Palm oil producers operating within Ajumako Enyan Essiam District in Central Region operating at Ofobil site led by an impletmentation team have made a passionate appeal to authorities specifically the District Assembly to recognize the immense contribution of palm oil industry towards the growth of domestic and national economy and give the industry the necessary support.
The producers who had previously expressed their challenges in a similar forum reaffirmed that the major problem retarding the progress of the palm oil business is absence of hydro electric power at Ofobil producing site. It was explained that since there was no electricity at the Ofobil production site, producers mostly depend on diesel powered equipment in the production processes which was costly and less efficient to use. For them, the situation had always made it impossible to work at the site at night due to the darkness and general insecurity and thus reducing their working time at the site which in turn affects the level of productivity.
According to the implementation team with the diesel powered machines in use, the plants at the site could only produce eight barrels of oil in a week at the cost of 42 gallons of diesel at the rate of GHS8.00 and that if there were electricity at the site, this production level could be trippled within the given period. For them, the cummulative effect of these was that, the industry was made less rewarding and less attractive at the site, since they had often resulted to low productivity, affecting their incomes and business growth.
The implementation team therefore called on government to make efforts towards the extension of electricity to the site and that fortunately, there had been efforts in recent times that have led to the extension of electricity to the Ofobil Township lessening the distance to the site to 1Km such that it required a little more effort to get electricity to the production site, adding that a separate transformer planted and designated only for use at the site would do them a lot more good.

This was realized during a day’s sanitization activity organized in Mankessim, the District capital. The sensitization exercise was sponsored by the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC Fund) under the support of DANIDA, USAID and the European Union. It was under the theme “Advocating for the provision of electricity to boost production of palm and kennel oil at Ofobil”. The activity recorded an attendance of 271 participants made up of 174 males and 97 females.
The program was organized by the Ajumako Enyan Essiam Palm Oil Producers Association (AEEPOPA) to raise awareness of the association’s members and instill in them a sense of ownership of an advocacy action meant to address electricity problem facing the association at its palm oil production site at Ofobil.
On behalf of the implementation team of the action, the chairman of the association, Mr. Owusu Acheampong reiterated that oil palm production started in the 1820s and that despite Ghana’s efforts in the industry, Malaysia which learnt lessons on the industry from Ghana is far ahead of Ghana in reaping the benefits grounded in the industry due to the adequate attention given the industry in Malaysia. The chairman lamented that upon all the viable nature of the palm oil business, it had over the years enjoyed limited support from the central government. This according to Mr. Acheampong has contributed to the gradual dwinling surrounding the industry.
He recounted the relevance of the oil palm industry and the numerous benefits it provided, such as the exports of its products (palm oil and kennels) aside the local domestic and industrial use of such products and that the industry had been economically helpful to the producers of palm oil and kennel oil at the Ofobil area who depended on it to generate a living.
The chairman stated that oil palm production served as employment for persons in the business, mentioning the medinal value component of palm oil as a major merit for nursing mothers/care givers. He further explained that palm oil can be used to cure sores in the stomach and a common source of nutrition when used in the preparation of soup and eaten with food.
Amid standing ovation from the participants Mr. Acheampong intimated that tapping of palm wine and the growing of mushroom on the dead and rotten trees, weaving of baskets ( the straw of the tree), roofing of houses and hats/ building of thatch houses, animal feed(oil palm leaves), source of fuel/fire ( kennel shell) in the blacksmiths and homes as well as preparation of soaps are some of the numerous benefits dervived from the oil palm tree.
Hierachically, unstable market prices for the oil palm products and the bad nature of the roads to the industrial site according to the implemetation team are other problems facing the oil palm industry at the Ofobil site.
Contributing to the subject , Mr. John Yaw Akparep Business Service Provider/Consultant to the association urged members of the association not to relent in their effort to pledge their unflinching support to the implementation team, adding that it is only through collective effort that will help overcome the current problem facing oil palm production at Ofobil producing site. He took the opportunity to appeal to the government through the Ministry of Trade and Industry to help provide electricity to oil palm producers at Ofobil.

The BUSAC Fund monitor to the association, Mr. Seth Komla Nutakor commended the association for organizing a successful sensitization activity and encouraged them to cooperate to make the action succeed for the benefit of all. He advised the leadership of the association to make judicious use of the grant to achieve the desired results.