Gabriel Opoku-Asare speaking at the workshop
Gabriel Opoku-Asare, Head of Corporate Affairs, Unilever Ghana, says the palm oil sub-sector could be the next ‘gold’ sector for the country if all key stakeholders collaborate to grow it.
He said the palm oil sector currently employs over 300,000 people in Ghana and must be given the needed attention to exploit its full potential.
Mr Opoku-Asare made this known while speaking at the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 Palm Oil Initiative Ghana Country Workshop held at the Best Western Hotel in Accra.
The workshop was organized by the Government through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (TFA 2020) Africa Palm Oil.
The objective of the workshop was to identify the challenges that affect sustainable oil palm production and develop practical principles to guide sustainable production in Ghana.
Mr. Opoku-Asare said, “As most consumer goods companies and agribusinesses are looking to expand their operations in Africa, there is a huge demand for sustainable palm oil production.
He said the oil palm sub-sector could easily be developed into a key foreign exchange earner to create jobs and improve the livelihood of millions of Ghanaians.
“Even though Ghana is one of the leading palm oil producing countries – second in Africa and eight in the world, Ghana is still a net importer of palm oil. Ghana’s current deficit of 50,000 tonnes in supply could hit over 100,000 tonnes in the near future. This trend can be reversed and Ghana can become a net exporter of palm oil,” Opoku-Asare said.
He said, “Currently, most of the global consumer goods companies like Unilever source their palm oil from South East Asia. Since their businesses in Africa have expanded, they import part of their palm oil from outside Africa to supplement local supply.
“This doesn’t make sense as palm oil is a crop indigenous to West Africa, but Ghana will only be able to access the large and growing market for sustainable produced palm oil if it commits to sustainable production,” he added.
Touching on Unilever’s commitment to sustainable palm oil, he said as far back as the mid-1990s, the company started developing Good Agricultural Practice Guidelines for palm oil as part of its Sustainable Agriculture Programme.
“Unilever believes that a profitable and sustainable palm oil sector must find the right balance between social, environmental and economic objectives.
“This is a shared responsibility between government, the private sector and civil society to work towards a collaborative solution for a sustainable palm oil industry,” he added.
By Cephas Larbi