Sunflower Project re-launched

Sunflower Project

In 2017, Ghana imported well over 5 million metric tonnes of sunflower oil, worth over US$4million. Although domestic consumption is high, major industrial consumers of sunflower oil are the canned fish processing and oil paint manufacturing companies.

Indeed, according to the Export Promotion Authority, canned fish in sunflower oil exported in 2017, stood at over US$149million.

In the 1990’s, an attempt was made to introduce sunflower to Ghana. However, there were challenges and the project collapsed. A second attempt was made to reintroduce sunflower in 2004, and successes were achieved in the areas of research and development, marketing and product development.

That notwithstanding, the challenge that stalled the project was lack of funding to procure a bigger processing plant to meet the huge demand for biodiesel from VRA, and refined oil for the fish processing companies.

Consequently, last week, the Tropical Agricultural Marketing and Consultancy Services (TRIGIMACS) launched a sunflower project at the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) of the University of Ghana to spearhead the cultivation of sunflower in large quantities from 2024 onward.

According to the CEO of TRIGIMACS, Issah Sulemana, the objective is for import substitution to discourage the huge importation of sunflower in order to reduce the country’s huge import bill in line with the National Policy on Agricultural Industrialisation.

Mr. Sulemana stated that the sunflower business in the country is worth US$152million since many households use sunflower oil because of its health benefits; and its cultivation will contribute to mitigating the impact of climate change since it can be employed for soil reclamation, boost income for farmers, and help alleviate poverty.

He noted that the project was necessitated by the on-going conflict between Russia and Ukraine who, together, produce 40 percent of global sunflower demand and this shortfall can be met by countries like Ghana whose topography and soils suit the cultivation of the ornamental plant.

The total project cost is estimated at US$10million. This includes oil processing equipment, vehicles, factory and office construction, feedstock cultivation, working capital and miscellaneous expenditure.

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