Oil palm farmers ask for help

Farmers in the oil palm plantation sub-sector have called on the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) to assist farmers in the industry to obtain treated and affordable seedlings for the growth and expansion of their business. According to the farmers, there is a variety of seedlings such as pisifera, dura and tenera; however, the tenera is the best quality amongst the seedlings but is not easy to get. “The non-availability of improved, certified and affordable oil palm seedlings has adversely affected the profitability and sustainability of the members, as well as led to scarcity and high cost of palm oil and other palm products,” Mr. Kofi Oduro, Chairman of Assin Adiembra Co-operative Farmer Society Limited, has said. At a sensitisation seminar for the farmers at Assin Adiembra in the Central Region, with support from Business Advocacy Challenge Fund, he noted that the absence of well-established quality seedlings from MOFA has led to farmers purchasing seedlings of low quality. This, he said, resulted in farmers producing low yield -- leading to loss of revenue. “We need to cultivate treated seedlings that are raised in a nursery for ten months and over.” He said some of the seeds obtained by the farmers are adulterated while others also transplant the seedlings at less than 10 months. According to him, the association with a membership of 52 can process the palm fruit from 6 to 10 drums a day – “Our demand is so high that we cannot supply some of the companies since we produce less”. He said efforts should be made to create awareness for farmers to understand the need for obtaining quality seedlings, before transplanting by agricultural extension officers from MOFA in collaboration with the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research.