GHANA – Mr Samuel Avaala, the General Manager of Benso Oil Palm Plantation Limited (BOPP), has called on Government and policy makers to review policies on oil palm production to create a favourable business environment.

This, according him, would enable the private sector and the Government to collaborate to make the oil palm industry stand shoulder-to-shoulder with cocoa industry in creating wealth for rural communities and also boost the economy.

Mr Avaala made the call at a durbar during which 34 workers, 13 independent palm fruit suppliers and communities, and eight smallholder farmers received various awards in recognition of their meritorious services to the company.

Giving instances of some bottlenecks in the industry, he said the company paid GHC1 million  for domestic energy alone this year whereas  the company’s  direct cost of processing a tonne of fresh fruit  bunch was about seven dollars, the corresponding indirect cost was about  10 dollars.

To this end, the company would, from the next production year, begin to pay a 12.5 per cent corporate tax as and when there was no such tax previously, he said, quizzing: “is this not high cost of doing business in Ghana?”

Mr Avaala said though Ghana was a net importer of crude palm oil with a climatic condition suitable for cultivation of oil palm, there were challenges with land acquisition coupled with non-existence of suitable long term and patent capital for agriculture, particularly tree crops.

He, therefore appealed to traditional rulers, district assemblies, development partners and other stakeholders to address this problem so that investors through BOPP could expand nucleus estate and smaller holders and out grower schemes.

He said for the past three years, the company has paid a total of GHC26.3 million in purchasing fruits from small holders and out growers and transporters in the Western and Central Regions and this could be significantly increased if more land was made available for development.

On successes chalked, he said between January and November, this year, the Company processed 100,936 metric tonnes of fresh fruit bunches compared to 89,681 metric tonnes processed in the same period last year, representing a 12.5 per cent.

For corporate social responsibilities, Mr. Avaala said the Company has awarded scholarships to a total of 44 students in the catchment area and children of employees at the second cycle and tertiary levels bringing to 246 beneficiaries since the inception of a scholarship scheme in 2007.

He announced that the Company, which was 40 years this year, was adjudged leader in agriculture and agribusiness in Ghana at this year’s Ghana Investment Promotion Centre’s

Club 100 awards and paid tribute to chief of Adum Banso, Nana Kwandoh Brempong III, for his foresight towards the establishment of the company.