President’s Special Initiative – Palm Oil
Between 2000 and 2006 Volta Region participated in the National Government oil palm production programme under the President’s Special Initiative agricultural directive (PSI). This programme created 32 oil palm nurseries nationwide where millions of oil palm seedlings were germinated and distributed to local smallholders free of charge.
In Kadjebi and Hohoe districts of Volta Region, this project was taken up by 106 Farmer Based Organisations comprised of over 1,000 farmers who collectively planted 1,563ha of palm oil. All these trees are now mature and in full fruit, but were not being harvested because of the lack of an oil mill in Volta Region. Consequently, there is no market for the fruit.
The Government directive also promised to ensure commercial scale oil palm mills would be accessible to all smallholders nationwide. This part of the directive was not fully implemented. As a result, Volta Region is the only palm oil producing region in the country without access to a commercial mill. As a result of the PSI programme, Volta Red built a small mill capable of processing 1 tonne of FFB per hour in Kadjebi district, with the objective of developing a thriving and successful out grower scheme. The mill was commissioned in March 2013 and has been operating successfully since then.
Volta Red operates three plantations in the upper Volta Region. In 2012 we acquired the lease on the Ata Kofi estate which comprises 112ha of mature palm planted in 2007 under the SPI scheme. In 2013 we acquired the Pepesu estate, of which 500ha is deemed suitable for oil palm plantation and in late 2013 we acquired the Brewaniaese estate which is made up of 3,750ha of land, of which 2,050ha are under cultivation.
This was planted by an Accra resident Ghanaian in 2006 and 2007 under the President’s Special Initiative for Oil Palm. It consists of 112 hectares of mature oil palm plantation but has been badly neglected as the owner abandoned the plantation when he could not find a market for his fruit. These palms required major rehabilitation work which is now complete and the plantation is now in full fruit production.
This consists of 650ha of which 500ha has been deemed as suitable for cultivation under palm. The company currently has 150,000 hybrid Deli x Ghana seedlings in its nursery sourced from ASD in Costa Rica that will be ready for planting which will start at the onset of the next major rainy season in March 2015. The company will also distribute all excess seedlings to local farmers under its smallholder outgrower programme. The company has an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the 500ha and will apply for the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) New Planting Procedures (NPP), as well as appropriate legal permits, prior to its development. In addition the company has had soil analysis and planting feasibility studies carried out which has led to the identification of 500ha of the 650ha being suitable for planting. It will also conduct a high conservation value (HCV) study with an RSPO approved assessor.
This estate consists of 3,750ha. Planting took place over three years with 800ha planted in 2010, 800ha in 2011 and 500ha planted in 2012. All of the planting, excluding the PSI land, was approved through the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) New Planting Procedures (NPP). As the only large scale oil palm plantation in Volta, our acquisition of this estate represents a multi-million Dollar investment in the future of oil palm cultivation in the Region.
The company has a 12 hectare professional nursery where all of our high-yield, drought resistant seedlings were grown and matured. Since 2009 the nursery has produced more than 550,000 oil palms ready for planting. However, we are committed to helping the oil palm farmers of the Volta Region to improve their returns by sharing best practices and by working with them produce quality yields and a ready market for their fruit.
In addition to our own plantations it is of fundamental importance to the company that we help develop a well-structured and successful Out-Grower programme. This will not only help local farmers realise their potential but it will also help support the economic development of Ghana. The company has identified 500 individual famers accounting for 2,000ha of smallholder farmer oil palm plantings in the areas surrounding the mill and the estates. These farmers planted palms as part of Ghana’s President’s Special Initiative on Oil Palm Plantings. Through this initiative, the Government of Ghana assisted smallholder farmers in planting oil palms in an effort to promote economic development and to reduce Ghana’s dependence on imports. However as their palms started bearing fruit the farmers found that no commercial mill existed for their fruit. Therefore, all FFB beyond the amount local manual small-scale millers could process, has been wasted.