Setting up a 21st-century palm oil plantation in

Ghana

The World Bank forecasts that an additional 6.3 million ha of palm oil plantations will be required to meet global demand by 2020 and growing. In this context, the continent of Africa offers quite a lot of land where to cultivate palm oil without harming the environment. Quercus-Group, as a strong and knowledgeable partner, is helping this to happen.

 

Untapped potential of Palm Oil in Ghana

For the last 10 years, palm oil production has developed into an important economic crop for Ghana and contributes a lot to Ghana’s GDP. Ghana has the potential to become Africa’s leading palm oil producer and exporter. Agriculture, as in most parts of Africa, provides employment for more than half of the country’s workforce, which not only affects household income but also provides stable jobs across the region.  

Oil palm yields 10 times more oil per ha compared to other oil-bearing crops, making it the most efficient crop requiring only 0,26 ha land to produce 1 t of oil. The oil palm fruit produces two types of oil: red palm oil from the fleshy mesocarp and palm kernel oil from the seed (kernel). There is a growing usage as palm oil can be utilised for cooking, margarine, as milk fat replacer and cocoa butter substitute, whereas palm kernel oil is used in making soap, detergent, toiletries and cosmetics. In addition, palm oil is the most competitively priced vegetable oil. However, the high demand has caused unsustainable ways of production, mostly due to the burning of land to free space for the palms. Nevertheless, the rising numbers of the global population will only increase the demand for palm oil, as mentioned above. 

Our ambition


Quercus-Group has set an ambition to change the reputation of this truly unique plant by designing a way of producing palm oil, during which no sacrifice from the environment and local communities are taken. Quercus-Group has a wealth of resources and experience in feasibility and developmental studies, project implementation, mill and infrastructure, logistics, management, soil and foliar analysis, GIS, 2D/3D modelling and training, which are crucial in this project. Together with the local partners, currently in Ghana, we have undertaken the development of a sustainable 4000-hectare oil palm plantation. 

Our approach
 

Known as a 'hands-on' consultancy it is important for us to have our feet on the ground. Such an approach allows us to specifically tailor the processes to fit the local context, closely oversee the continued development of the project and thus ensure achievement of the highest levels of success for this initiative.
 

Further, sustainability being at the core of our company there was no doubt that it would also become a core of this project. In order to achieve our ambitious sustainability goals set for this project, it was decided that incorporation of Triple Bottom Line principles will truly provide a unique and fresh approach to palm oil production. This includes careful consideration of the following aspects:  

  • Social impact – transformation of the local economy by providing work opportunities for the local communities and breaking the gender-gap.

 

→ Currently, in Ghana, the main occupations of the economically active population across the regions are in the agricultural and farming-related industries. The male workforce engaged with agriculture-related activities are estimated at around 77% while corresponding figures for female workforce number is around 73%. The Oil Palm Industry, including us as apart of the project, employs from across both genders, effectively ranging from family labour to hired daily contracted labourers. Currently today, we are proud to have over 60% of female workers employed at the plantation. As for the future, the proposed oil palm plantation will provide stable jobs of all types for the duration of the commercial life span of the plantation, estimated at 25 years. 

  • Environmental consideration - ensuring flourishing of the local ecosystems and using the land while showing the most respect to it. 

    → We ensured that zero burning procedures were up-held and no deforestation was initiated. Additionally, we strongly believe that the continent of Africa offers quite a lot of good land where to cultivate these practices which is due to the very little or no damage being caused to the local ecosystems.

    → The good climate conditions for growing such crop have ensured a 97% of the planted seeds to survive, which is a very high number. The oil palm tree (Elaeis guineansis Jacq.) is a plant native to Ghana and West Africa. Its production is generally limited to latitudes of approximately ten degrees north and south of the equator and at altitudes below 700 meters with a minimum rainfall of 1600 mm per year. 

    → Plant's contribution to the global ecosystem - 1 ha/annum of Oil Palm plantation: 

    • ​Releases approx. 21 tons of Oxygen to the environment. 

    • Captures approx. 30 tons of Carbon dioxide  
      in contrast 

    • 1 ha Soybean releases 2,5 tons of Oxygen and captures 3,5 tons of Carbon dioxide.

       → With our support the overall production is vastly reaching and fulfilling the highly set standards of Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil                      (RSPO) and aiming to obtain RSPO Certification.
 

  • Economy perspective 
    → We ensure that there is no waste from the fruits, everything can be used – apart from oil, the empty fruit bunch (EFB) can be used for mulching agent. From fresh fruit bunches (FFB) to crude palm oil (CPO) and crude palm kernel oil (CPKO), EFB can be pelletized for use as green energy suitable for the export market. Palm oil mill effluent (POME) converted Biogas and green fertilizer.

Our offer

Within the scope of such agriculture project, we offer support, guidance and execution in relation to: 

  • Sustainable palm oil production 

  • Sustainable agriculture 

  • Best management practices (BMP)  
     

In overall, this agriculture project is being received with a great interest. The collective efforts with the local partners back in November 2018 have provided us with recognition and support from the Ghanaian Government and with now the project being considered as a part of the 'One District, One Factory' initiative which sets to ignite Ghana’s industrialisation and set her on course for positive socio-economic development.

For more information on the project please contact our colleagues Benny Mistry, Senior Agronomist, benny@quercus-group.com and Michael Rottbøll, Senior Agrarian Economist, michael@quercus-group.com.

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