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Business News of Friday, 2 October 2015

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Agric Minister calls for sustainable oil palm production

AFRICA risks losing out in oil palm production if it fails to mainstream sustainable measures into the production of the commodity, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Fiifi Kwetey, has said.

Currently, Africa accounts for less than five per cent of global palm oil output, whereas its consumption is about 10 per cent of global demand resulting in a deficit.

Streamlining sustainability, Mr Kwetey said, was necessary because of the introduction of policies and standards into the sector, implying that only certified palm oil would be accepted to be part of global production.

“For Africa to remain competitive within the rapidly changing oil palm market there is the need for concerted efforts by all players to mainstream sustainability into palm oil production, including the small and artisanal growers,” he said.

Mr Kwetey was speaking at a one-day forum on sustainable palm oil in Africa, in Accra, organised by Solidaridad West Africa and Proforest, with the support of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

The forum, which was on the theme, “Sustainable palm oil in Africa: Getting it right from the start”, brought together oil palm growers, civil society, financial institutions, development partners, government officials and key experts to share knowledge and experience about how to improve sustainable palm oil production in Africa.

Standards in production

There has being moves to introduce guidelines in the production of palm oil in Africa with sustainability in mind.

The Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA), 2020 Africa Palm Oil initiative, which is being spearheaded by Proforest, developed some principles to aid production of palm oil in Africa.

The principles cover the policy and legal framework for governing oil palm development, sustainable environmental management and socio-economic concerns, stakeholder involvement and rural livelihoods and the rights of smallholders and outgrowers along the oil palm value chain.

While acknowledging how these principles will aid sustainability, Mr Kwetey said “there is an ongoing paradigm shift in the palm oil society towards sustainable palm oil production”.

He added that “there are standards such as the RSPO which ensure that oil palm is produced sustainably,” Non-certified palm oil.

Non-certified palm oil

“The implication is that non-certified palm oil will gradually be removed from international palm oil trade and this will result in loss in revenues to many producer countries. If measures are not put in place to check this, it will bring some difficulty,” Mr Kwetey said.

Africa has seen significant investments in the oil palm sector over the past decade. These include new plantation establishment, rehabilitation of abandoned plantations, investments in more efficient mills and refineries, as well as innovative smallholder initiatives.

The RSPO, which is a non-profit association, provides an opportunity to address the social and environmental impacts of oil palm production. It brings together palm oil producers, processors and traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks and investors, and environmental and social non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to develop and implement a global standard for sustainable palm oil production.