An Oil Palm Development Board is to be set up by government soon to ensure effective regulation and sustainability of the oil palm industry in Ghana.
Dr. Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, who announced this in Accra yesterday, said the move would ensure the creation of a serene environment for the oil palm business to thrive.
He was speaking at the opening of a two-day African Sustainable Palm Oil Conference organised by Proforest, Solidaridad, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
According the deputy minister, MOFA had submitted a memorandum on the formation of the board to Cabinet and it was approved last week.
“What is left now is for us to engage key stake-holders, particularly the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Attorney General’s Department to put the modalities needed in place to develop a legal instrument for the establishment of the board,” he said.
Dr. Alhassan stated that the board would consist of key oil palm producers to enable them to address their own issues, as well as protect the environment, reduce deforestation and respect local communities and their environment.
The forum was necessary to find ways to promote investment in the palm oil sector in Africa, and grow it to have the potential to provide jobs, improve local economies and reduce rural poverty in Africa.
It was attended by oil palm growers, civil society, financial institutions, supply chain actors, development partners, governments and key experts in the oil palm sector within Africa and beyond.
It discussed how to position oil palm businesses on the continent to adopt best practices in sustaining it, while mainstreaming small producers’ ability to access global supply chains.
Mr. Abraham Baffoe, African Regional Director for Proforest, said the future growth of the sector was expected to help close the palm oil deficit and position the region to be a net exporter of palm oil.
“This is a critical time for sustainable palm oil in Africa as the region is likely to become a net exporter of palm oil and as national and international business increasingly commits to responsible production and sourcing,” he said.
He stated that the palm oil industry if not well planned and implemented, could come with significant negative social and environmental impacts, leading to further rural impoverishment, land conflicts, deforestation and the destruction of high conservation values.
By Linda Naa Deide Aryeetey