Lack of access to fertiliser hampering palm oil cultivation

Lack of access to fertilisers is hampering the cultivation of oil palm crop in the country, Dr Thomas Fairhurst, an international field agronomist, has observed.

“If Ghana invests in an improved fertiliser supply chain, it is going to improve all sectors including cocoa and other crop-growers and so on.

“Fertiliser is the driver, and we know that when we study the soil analysis data we can see very clearly that the soil in the oil palm belt is deficient in some nutrients. So do not let anybody convince you that this can be done with organic farming.”

Dr Fairhurst was speaking at a Sustainable West Africa Palm-oil Programme (SWAPP) organised by Solidaridad, a not-for-profit organisation that is interested in developing small- and medium-scale producers to be sustainable and profitable.

The workshop was aimed at developing the oil palm sector which is dominated by small-scale farmers.

It brought together various practitioners ranging from agronomists to oil palm farmers to share best practice in oil palm agronomy to increase productivity and sustainability.

Approximately 305,700 hectares of oil palm is being cultivated nationwide, and an additional 20,000 hectares of farmland is needed to meet local demand.

In 2010, oil palm processing groups projected a production output of 260,000 metric tonnes of palm oil, which leaves a deficit of 35,000 metric tonnes – leaving government with no option but to spend US$100million annually on importation of oil palm to make up for the deficit.

An estimated unmet demand of oil palm in the ECOWAS sub-region is between 850,000 and 1,000,000 metric tonnes annually, a huge market the country can take advantage of if properly managed.

Demand for crude palm oil (CPO) is steadily rising in India, China, Europe and America for bio-fuel. In view of this development, investors have been diverting their investment portfolios into this area.

Source: B&FT Online