Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to make a Statement on the need to intensify the production of oil palm, and the establishment of palm oil extracting factories in parts of the Western, Central, Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Volta and Eastern Regions, under the One District One Factory initiative, to supplement cocoa as a major foreign exchange earner in the country.
Oil palm products have both domestic and industrial uses; there are several businesses within the oil palm industry. The output or sometimes the by-products of one business serves as an input of another.
Mr Speaker, this business feeds several other businesses with its output and the by-products namely palm fruits, palm kernel, palm fronds, palm wine, fibre et cetera.
Mr Speaker, it is important to note that Ghana was the first country where the British established oil palm plantations in the 19th century. The same seeds and production techniques were then used to establish oil palm plantations in another British colony -- Malaysia.
Mr Speaker, despite the common root, the oil palm value chain in Malaysia and Ghana have taken two divergent pathways. Malaysia is now the world's second largest palm oil producer and exporter after Indonesia, while Ghana ranks 15th in terms of production quantity.
With at least six major oil palm companies in Ghana, namely; Ghana Oil Palm Development Company (GOPDC), Twifo Oil Palm Plantatiom Ltd (TOPP), Juaben Oil Mills, Benso Oil Palm Plantation (BOPP) Ayiem Oil Mills and Norpalm Ghana Ltd, the cumulative annual crude palm oil production in the country is 243,852 mt.
Mr Speaker, this is less than Ghana's annual demand of 295,000 ms of crude palm oil. This 35,000 mts demand deficit leaves the idea of crude palm oil export in shadows.
Mr Speaker, Ghana imports over 30,000 mts of crude palm oil from Asia, annually, and this costs us over US$300 million. How can we spend so much to import something we can easily and conve- niently produce and even have surplus to export?
Mr Speaker, the total cultivable land for oil palm in the country is estimated at one million hectares, but only about one- third, that is, 336,000 hectares is under cultivation---664,000 hectares is uncul- tivated.
Our plantation productivity is 15 metric tons per hectare (mts/h) while that of la d'voire is 25mt/h. Meanwhile, we have similar, if not same favourable soil and climatic conditions.
Mr Speaker, the demand for oil palm fruits and other products of oil palm is large and varied, and it has not been met by local production. There is an annual
demand of a million metric tonnes in Africa, with a deficit of 450,000 mts. There is no gainsaying that 54 per cent of Ghanaian households use palm oil in food preparation and production.
Mr Speaker, palm oil is the most competitively priced vegetable oil in the world, because it is five to 10 times more productive than other oil bearing crops, and has lowest requirements for inputs of fuel, fertilizers and pesticides per tonne of production.
Mr Speaker, there are also buying institutions in the country, who present strong demand for the palm fruits throughout the year, provided the right breed is cultivated.
Beside the major buying institution Ghana Oil Palm Development Company (GOPDC), there are other numerous buyers of the oil palm fruits scattered across the country. Together, they present a very good market for farmers of oil palm all year round.
With the above case for oil palm production, Mr Speaker, I strongly recommend that a lot of our districts in the above regions be encouraged to cultivate the oil palm in large plantations and set up palm oil extracting factories. This will go a long way to provide the panacea for unemployment in our various rural areas.
Mr Speaker, as I bring my Statement to a close, I would want to reiterate that I have nursed 60,000 seedlings of the oil palm and I am giving them to out growers. I am establishing an oil extracting machine in my constituency.
I would urge interested Hon Members of Parliament to do same for the development of Mother Ghana.
Hon Member, for this very interesting Statement so ably delivered.
Hon Members, we have one contribution from each Side.