Ghana- Why OIL PALM?

Ghana- Why OIL PALM?
Source: Ghana | Ababio Kwame |
Date: 09-02-2016 Time: 08:02:38:am


The oil palm tree is a tropical perennial crop with excellent benefits. Per hectare, it is the most productive oil crop in the world, being 10 times more productive than soybean and other oil bearing seeds. Of the 17 major vegetable oils traded on the international market, palm oil is the most important and accounts for more than half of the global import and export trade of all vegetable oils.

Oil palm plantations are as effective as rain forests in reducing carbon dioxide, a critical contributor to global warming. Hence oil palm plantations ensure better climatic conditions and in addition provide more employment than forest. These features of the plant are being harnessed on large and efficient scale by countries in the Asian tropics reflected by their lead roles in oil palm products like the crude palm oil (CPO). The World Bank explains that oil palm provides more jobs per hectare than other large scale farming (it employs about 0.4 people per acre), and the jobs are year-round rather than seasonal.


In Ghana, since the inception of Oil palm cultivation by the state through State Farms in 1960, this is how far she has evolved:

Total area of land cultivated is at 336,000ha out of 1 million hectors lands available, utilizing only 10% of the potential lands leaving 664,000ha suitable lands; twice much as existing cultivation .

80 (%) 268,800ha of Ghana’s existing plantations are cultivated by private small-scale farmers who mostly use unimproved planting materials and farming methods.

80 (%) of Ghana’s produced CPO is from small scale plantation holders and millers, who use inefficient milling machineries and methods.

Cote D’Ivoire records a higher plantation productivity of 25 mt/ha, whilst Ghana with similar favorable soil and climatic conditions yields average 15 mt/ha, indicating 10 mt/ha differential.

Ghana was the first country where the British established oil palm plantations in the 19th century. The same seeds and production techniques were then used to establish palm oil estates in another British colony-Malaysia. Despite the common root, the palm oil value chain in Malaysia and Ghana took two divergent development pathways. Malaysia is now the world’s second largest palm oil producer and exporter after Indonesia, while Ghana ranks 15th in terms of production quantity.

GOPDA (Ghana Oil Palm Development Association) an apex body comparable to COCOABOD; was established in 1985 to implement the sustainability of the oil palm industry, COCOABOD lives on strong but GOPDA; still hoping to get better!

The FDA reports more on the adulteration of the product (palm oil), but monitors less on the product’s production; leaving unqualified, unskilled and unknown sources of producers to their decisions of producing palm oil of uncertain quality for the innocent Ghanaian consumer.

Now the EFFECTS:

Ghana produces 243,852mt of CPO but with a local demand of over 295,000 mt annually, indicating a deficit of over 35, 000 mt annually, this leaves the idea of CPO exports in the shadows.

Ghana imports over 30,000mt CPO annually from Asia with Governments spending US$300million annually on this importation to make up the deficit.

Ghana’s CPO production is insufficient, below local demands, hence her contribution to the African regional production is not much different:

The most recent issues of adulteration of this wonderful product (palm oil) on the Ghanaian market with carcinogens and harmful substances, making it look to the innocent consumer that “palm oil” is almost completely harmful for human consumption.

                           African Palm Oil Production Chart

Hardman & Co (June 2011) World Agricultural Report -A growing story for Africa)

Master Plan Study for the Oil Palm Industry in Ghana MASDAR Report 1-11


It is the most competitively priced vegetable oil in the World, because it is 5 to 10 times more productive than other oil bearing crops and has the lowest requirement for inputs of fuel, fertilizers and pesticides per tonne of production

There is a high growing usage of CPO in the World, in wide range of products including: (soap, margarine, biscuits, Pharmaceutical products, etc.)

Demand is growing internationally and regionally with an annual deficit of a million metric tons in Africa and over 450,000mt deficit in Africa, with an average of 54% of Ghanaian households (I in 2 houses) using palm oil in food production.

About 80% of current world palm oil production is consumed in the form of food. With an estimated worldwide population increase of 11.6 percent and a 5 percent increase in per capital consumption. An estimate of additional 6.3 million ha of oil palm would have to be planted by 2020, says World Bank (2012).

Estimates indicate that the present shortfall in CPO supply in Ghana will continue and even grow bigger in the future. From a projected low of 32,000 mtons in 2010, envisaged will hit a deficit 127,000 mtons in 2024.

World Bank estimates that meeting vegetable oil demand in 2020 would require 6.3 million hectares of oil palm plantation; and using soybean oil instead would require an additional 42 million hectares (an area about the size of California!)- Where can that be found?


Indonesia’s oil palm industry generates over $12.4 billion in foreign exchange and employs about 2 million Indonesians.

Oil palm in Malaysia adds 5-6 % contribution to her GDP

Malaysia produces (19,000,000ton), Indonesia: (28,500,000ton), Thailand: (2,000,000ton), and Africa’s ranked first Nigeria produces: (910,000ton), with Ivory Coast: (390,000ton) palm oil / year…

Cote d’Ivoire earns 60% of her GDP from Agriculture and oil palm is the 3rd export agricultural commodity.

But guess what; Ghana like Malaysia, Indonesia, Nigeria and Cote D’Ivoire are amongst the few nations in the World with potential lands deemed highly suitable for oil palm cultivation…..

So GHANA....., Why not Palm?











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