The Swiss government has said it will continue to invest in the country’s oil palm sector, as part of its Ghana Private Sector Competitiveness Programme (GPSC) toward achieving a sustainable and competitive oil palm sector.
According to the Ag. Head of Cooperation-Swiss Embassy Ghana, Anne Schick, as the Swiss co-financed Sustainable West Africa Palm Oil Programme (SWAPP II) ends, the plan is to stay engaged as the second phase of GPSC prepares to take off.
“We are currently finalising the set-up of the second phase of our Ghana Private Sector Competitiveness Programme, which since 2017 has worked in the cashew and palm oil sector in Ghana.
“I can confirm Switzerland’s commitment to continue the support for both sectors in Ghana, and hence the joint journey to make the oil palm sector in Ghana great, or more precisely sustainable, and able to provide more and better jobs,” she stated.
While addressing stakeholders at the close-out ceremony of SWAPP II, spearheaded by Solidaridad West Africa, she acknowledged that the programme has contributed significantly to sustainable development of the sector.
However, she recognised that there are some pending issues which remain to be addressed.
“We are pleased that we could not only contribute to this success through SWAPP but were able to bring in other Swiss-financed programmes to align, use synergies and complement the effort.
“A lot has been reached through joint-efforts and we are proud to be part. However, SWAPP II in Ghana has not reached all its targets. There are different reasons for this. But one is certainly with the set-up of the Tree Crop Development Authority,” she said.
The Dutch Ambassador to Ghana, Jeroen Verheul, also speaking at the ceremony said the Embassy is excited to have collaborated with the Embassy of Switzerland to co-fund the second phase of SWAPP.
One of the key achievements of the programme, he said, was the completion and endorsement of the National Interpretation for Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and Liberia; and the certification of some enterprises and farmers.
The Dutch government, he said, is exiting the oil palm sector; and revealed that the upcoming cooperation strategy for the next five years will focus on trade and jobs, and the cocoa and horticulture sectors.
SWAPP, a four-year programme, was implemented between 2018 and 2022. It sought to transform the West African palm oil sector into an inclusive and sustainable sector through micro, small and medium enterprises that provide large-scale yield intensification and farm rehabilitation services to oil palm farmers and efficient processing of fresh fruit bunches (FFB) in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
It was funded by the Swiss government through the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and Embassy of the Netherlands in Accra.
Among others, a total of 53,602 beneficiaries were reached in the four implementing countries and helped increase the oil palm farm yield of beneficiary smallholder farmers from an average of 5.2 to 9.1 tonnes per hectare.
Also, the programme supported small and medium enterprises to establish 55 Rural Service Centres. These enterprises provided services to 12,263 smallholder farmers.
A total of €4million was mobilised from financial institutions for participating small and medium enterprises, and €1.9million was mobilised by Village Savings and Loans Associations established under the programme.
In Ghana, Solidaridad strengthened the Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana as the umbrella private sector association for the sector, and built its capacity to contribute in advocacy for establishment of the TCDA.
The Regional Director for Solidaridad West Africa, Isaac Gyamfi, said oil palm is now one of the few agricultural technical and vocational education and training courses that has a nationally accredited competency-based training curriculum with accredited schools, through the programme.
He stated that aside from strengthening the capacity of project beneficiaries, the programme also engaged financial institutions to build their capacity to enable them support farmers.