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Business News of Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Source: B-BOVID

Innovative business model introduced to benefit oil palm farmers

B-BOVID, an agribusiness based on social entrepreneurship principles, is introducing a unique profit-sharing concept to its oil palm enterprise which, will greatly benefit local farmers and their communities.

The company’s new palm oil and kernel mill – which employs the latest technology from Malaysia (the world’s top oil palm producing country) and SAM-EN-TEC (a Ghanaian Oil Mil Engineering Body) – is undergoing test runs and is scheduled to be in full operation by the end of March 2014.

Farmers who sell their palm fruit to B-BOVID will receive an end of year bonus from the business in addition to the market price for their produce. The bonus will be paid out of the profit made by the palm oil mill and will be based on the profit and the quantity supplied by a farmer to the company in that financial year.

B-BOVID has established the country’s first ICT centre for agriculture, aimed at building the capacity of small scale farmers. The essence of the training is to increase the volume and quality of their produce through the introduction of modern farming techniques, environmentally positive farming, business management, marketing skills and access to market information.

To encourage farmers to consider possible diversification, B-BOVID has also set-up a large alternative livelihood centre on its land near Apowa to educate famers on biodiversity and organic agriculture.

This site features a demonstration farm showcasing animal husbandry, aquaculture as well as vegetable production techniques. The organization also runs a well-equipped agricultural mechanization centre, the only one in the Western Region, which provides smallholder farmers with access to modern machinery at subsidized rates.

B-BOVID is the initiative of Mr. Issa Ouedraogo, the 2013 Western Region Farmer. He says his business name stands for Building Business on Values, Integrity and Dignity.

“Profit sharing is an essential part of what we’re aiming to do. We know that agriculture has huge potential to reduce poverty. If we can better reward the farmers who supply us with raw materials then that contributes to improving their livelihoods and that of their communities too. That is truly poverty reduction, empowerment and sustainable agriculture”.

Although oil palm is the fifth largest crop in Ghana in terms of acreage, oil palm farmers struggle with high production costs and low purchase prices. Consequently many farmers are threatening to abandon the industry to produce other cash crops such as cocoa and rubber.

B-BOVID’s way of tackling this issue, according to Mr. Ouedraogo.

“We want to use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems through innovation and technology in agriculture.” Mr. Ouedraogo who holds Master’s degree in IT and also a certified IT management consultant thinks it is time we join forces in an effort to make sure that the power of technology is put within the reach of everyone in our country – including the rural farmers , who need its help the most.

‘We believe that the status-quo is no longer sustainable- our approach is that when it comes to agriculture, everybody within the value chain should be a winner. Farmers toil in the hot sun, day in and day out, but often reap very little in terms of financial benefit. We’re trying to change this. We want the small scale oil palm farmers who work with us to grow along side us.”

Established in 2006, the business has been running its operations from its land on the Apowa-Mpoho road since 2010 in the Western Region. Its pioneering approach has already been recognized internationally through a social investment Pioneer Award jointly awarded in 2012 by the Principles for Social Investment Secretariat and the UN Global Compact Initiative.

This followed the introduction of B-BOVID’s model to the 15th International Business Forum in South Africa that same year; an event attended by over 300 business experts from around the world.

B-BOVID is inviting traditional leaders, Opinion leaders, the Media and corporate bodies operating in the Western Region to support its work in promoting viable and sustainable agriculture as an alternative to oil and gas.

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