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Business News of Wednesday, 8 November 2017


Oil Mill under One-District, One-Factory ready to take-off in Bogoso

Barring any unforeseeable challenge, the next destination for President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s flagship one-district, one-factory (1D-1F) policy is Bogoso in the Prestea-Huni Valley District in the Western Region.

The decision to locate the US$3.7-million palm oil processing factory in Bogoso was sealed following the visit by the National Coordinator for the policy, Mrs Gifty Ohene Konadu, to the community last week.

She apprised herself of the availability of raw materials to feed the factory, the prospects of the facility, as well as the community’s preparedness towards receiving such a plant.

Issues of the availability of a litigation-free land for such a facility were also considered during her visit, which saw her interact with a number of stakeholders in the community, including the management of the Golden Star Mining Company, smallholder farmers, chiefs and the management of the Prestea-Huni Valley District Assembly.

Her visit was spurred by a proposal submitted to her office for consideration and approval by the Golden Star Mining Company over the need to build an oil palm mill for downstream processing to complement organic plantation growth in Bogoso.

Oil palm plantation

Golden Star has a unique oil palm plantation flagship project which has brought the entire community together and is helping to alleviate poverty.

Known as the Golden Star Oil Palm Plantation (GSOPP), the initiative has acquired a unique approach to land acquisition by soliciting land from traditional authorities (seven divisional chiefs) who offer their land to become partners in the scheme.

Under the scheme, GSOPP provides funds for the development of the plantations through Golden Star’s financial commitment of US$1 per ounce of gold produced.
Selected and affected smallholder farmers participate as beneficiaries in the scheme.

Under this arrangement, agreements are signed with the selected farmers, where the cost of the plantation development is treated as loans (revolving fund) to the smallholder farmers.

Through this partnership approach, the major issues of land tenure associated with large-scale development are eliminated.

So far, GSOPP has developed 1,133 hectares of land in 10 communities where over 700 workers from the catchment communities have been engaged in this business.

The harvested produce is sold to Benso Oil Palm Plantation where 70 per cent of the revenue goes to the farmer and 20 per cent is deducted as loan. Five per cent of the proceeds also goes to the landlord, while the remaining five per cent is retained by GSOPP as its contribution for field infrastructure.

However, the cost of carting the produce from the farm gate to the oil mill is very high, with the smallholder farmers estimating a 20 per cent loss in revenue.

Excitement among farmers

Already, more communities are knocking on the doors of Golden Star to enrol them onto the flagship oil palm plantation project.

Some of the farmers who interacted with Mrs Konadu outlined how beneficial the project had been to them and their households.

“With this work, I have been able to build a three-bedroom facility and a chamber and hall.

I am also able to take care of my family by paying the school fees of my three children without any difficulty, give my wife household keeping money and also pay my utility bills.

In 2014, I was given an award as the best farmer in the district. I am hoping to expand my farm when the oil mill is cited here,” one of the long-serving smallholder farmers noted.

The Chairman of the Smallholder Farmers Association, Mr Daniel Kwao Wiredu, also said: “Before GSOPP came on board, I was struggling to make ends meet. But when the mines came to our aid, our production doubled and now I am able to pay the school fees of my children with ease. My living standard has improved and I am looking forward to seeing Nana Akufo-Addo’s factory in this community.”

Mr Maxwell Owusu, a harvester, also told Mrs Konadu to do everything within her power to site the factory in Bogoso, stressing that it would help them maximise profit on their produce.

Mrs Konadu, responding to the concerns of the local farmers, assured them that once funds for the facility were ready, she would do whatever she could to site the facility in Bogoso to meet the aspirations of all.

She made it clear that the government would not build factories when the means of sustaining such facilities were not there.