The Managing Director of Unilever Ghana, George Owusu-Ansah has challenged Ghana to take advantage of AfCFTA to invest in palm oil production for manufacturing and export.
He said oil palm serves as a raw material for industry and a good source of foreign exchange. He therefore urged Ghana to use its comparative arable land to cultivate the country’s second most important tree crop, after cocoa.
Speaking in an interview, George Owusu-Ansah said Ghana needs a good land tenure system, sustainable cultivation and value addition to improve palm oil production. A guaranteed litigation-free tenure system would promote the commercial cultivation of oil palm to meet local and international demands, he added.
“Palm oil is in cosmetics, palm oil is in soaps, palm oil is in pharmaceuticals, so it is big for us. We just have to be smart and add value to it. This is the only way we can move from the Guggisberg economy as projected by the President.”
He also stressed on sustainable cultivation of the tree crop to protect the environment, saying “responsible sourcing is key.”
Moreover, the Managing Director revealed that palm oil is his outfit’s biggest raw material. Thus, Unilever Ghana pay a premium to source responsibly and do not take palm oil from companies not certified, he added.
The Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Hon Joseph Boahen Aidoo on his part also called on local cocoa processors and chocolatiers to take advantage of the trade opportunities in Africa.
He noted in a forum that there is a huge market potential in AfCFTA. Therefore, COCOBOD has set up a committee to liaise with the AfCFTA Secretariat and local cocoa processors to promote the consumption of Ghana’s cocoa products in Africa.
According to him, Ghana is yet to fully benefit from the precious commodity because local value addition is relatively low. He said the committee would serve as a liaison between cocoa stakeholders to take advantage of the reduced tariff regime that the AfCFTA agreement seeks to achieve.
“Whilst we have managed to increase our per capita consumption level to 0.6kg, we are still a long way from achieving our target of over 1kg per capita consumption” he said.
Moreover, he indicated how huge the global market for processed cocoa is. He said AfCFTA has the potential to strengthen and grow intra-Africa trade from the current base of 15% to 52%. Hon Aidoo, therefore appealed to cocoa processors and chocolatiers to support the national cocoa consumption promotion agenda. He also urged processors to further diversify into other finished products such as cosmetics and spices.
The Technical Adviser on Multilateral Regional and Bilateral Trade at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Mr Anthony K. Nyame-Baafi stressed the need for stakeholders to consolidate and expand existing markets for Ghana’s cocoa products. He said it would be profitable to explore market opportunities in North, East and Southern African countries such as Egypt, Kenya and South Africa.
“There is the need to stimulate increased demand for made in Ghana cocoa products…which the Ministry is dedicated to facilitating.”