Trade data obtained from the Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana (OPDAG) suggests the country imported some US$1.17billion worth of oil palm between 2019 and 2021, a commodity which can be produced locally.
OPDAG President, Samuel Avaala, says lack of best practices in production and milling is causing the state to lose millions of export revenue from the commodity.
It is quite ironic that while the country has the potential to become a net exporter, it has become a net importer of oil palm since 1.17 million metric tonnes of palm oil was imported from 2019 to 2021, while the nation produced just about 850,000 tonnes within the same period.
Though Wilmar Africa and the Benson Oil Palm Plantation refine and produce crude palm, these two companies export a chunk of their products to the Sahel regions and other parts in the sub-region.
Refining almost 1000 metric tonnes per day, both Wilmar and Benson export about 600,000 tonnes in both refined and crude palm each year to countries, including Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and others.
Domestic consumption of palm oil hovers around 400,000 tonnes, and Mr. Avaala is of the opinion that priority should be given to domestic production to reach two million tonnes annually, so as to reduce the weight of imports on the economy, as well as, to create employment for young people.
Currently, Indonesia and Malaysia produce more than 90 percent of the world’s consumable palm oil. Data from the OPDAG shows that Africa consumes 13 percent of global palm oil but produces just about four percent of the commodity.
A key challenge to the domestic production remains the fact that small-scale producers are in charge of more than 70 percent production.
Similarly, oil extraction and processing are largely done by small artisanal millers. With little or no use of technology in the sector, oil extracting rate is lower, and waste contains fibre content higher than the actual oil extracted.
Small producers and artisanal millers are not only limited in capacity, but they also lack best practices.
Currently, Ivory Coast is the only net exporter of palm oil in Afr