Palm oil producers commend government
The Palm oil Development Association of Ghana (OPDAG) has expressed appreciation to the government for exempting the commodity and its by-products from the reduction in the benchmark value of imports.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Monday, May 11, this year, announced a 50 per cent reduction in the benchmark rates of someimports, but exempted oil palm and its products to protect local productivity.
“We thank the President and the government as we look forward to the next big thing — the operationalisation of the Tree Crops Development Authority,” the association said in a statement.
Signed by the Executive Secretary of the association, Mr Selorm Quarme, the statement said thousands of its members and the entire oil palm sector value chain actors were excited about the government’s decision to exempt the sector’s commodities from the reduction in the benchmark value of imports.
It said the move would guarantee the continuous employment and sustained livelihoods of a large number of Ghanaian farmers and value chain actors, most of whom were smallholders.
It would also provide a level playing field to ensure that local producers remained competitive in the near term, while encouraging and attracting the needed investments for the development of the oil palm sector which was waiting to be exploited to further the development of the tree crop sector.
“The benchmark value introduced in 2019 gave importers of palm oil in the form of vegetable cooking oils an unfair pricing advantage over local producers,” the statement said.
It added that, “the price advantage to importers pushed a lot of farmers, processors and other businesses in the oil palm value chain out of business.
“We are, however, excited that a decision has been taken to exempt palm oil and the related cooking oils from this policy.”
Mr Quarme later told the Daily Graphic that the decision would benefit all stakeholders, especially those within the value chain.
“It will again make the sector attractive for investment and for the development of the tree crops sector as envisaged in the Tree Crops Development Authority Act, 2019 (Act 1010),” he said.
The executive secretary observed that prior to the introduction of the benchmark value, a 25-litre (large yellow gallon) of oil produced locally was selling for GH¢145 as against GH¢150 for the imported product.
However, when the policy kicked in, whereas the locally produced vegetable oil was still selling at the same price, the imported products started selling at between GH¢110 and GH¢120.
“This situation adversely affected the local industry as local producers were faced with the concomitant effects of an unfair competition — a situation that was starting to result in job losses and loss of livelihoods of thousands of smallholder farmers in the value chain, not to mention the effect on investment and expansion of the sector,” Mr Quarme stated.
He added, “the association since the introduction of the policy has been calling for an exemption for the oil palm industry and it is heartwarming to note that the government has listened to this plea and taken the steps to rescue the industry.”