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Published on : Feb 24, 2015

For Ghana's small-scale farmers, the palm crop serves as a backup in times when their cocoa crops fail. This is because oil palm crops are much more resistant to diseases and pests, providing regular harvest across an entire year – but as long as it is tended properly, which is quite rare for the small farmers of Ghana, says Rosemary Addico, who runs a support program for farmers.

The organization is named Solidarid, and is operating to get hundreds of Ghana’s small-scale oil palm producers certified by the organization Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Rosemary is hopeful that the certification will help the farmers boost their profits and yields. But she says that for doing this, the farmers should be brought collectively in groups of 25 and 100 farmers.

 Without forming groups, it would not be able to train them and they will get no investors. This way, they will get more prices for their crops and higher incomes in turn. In Ghana, most oil palm producers produce only about half the average crop produced by farmers across the globe per hectare of land.

Inferior-quality seeds and an overall poor management of crops are the key reasons behind this. Still, they supply nearly 35 to 40 percent of the entire palm oil consumed globally.

Multinational companies are increasingly arguing about the sources of oil palm these days, and are committing to use only palm oil in their supply chain that is produced in a way that did not cut down forests for the plantations or have exploited workers. Also, the scenario is such that small-scale oil palm manufacturers who cannot give the absolute guarantees about righteous sources could lose out, say experts. A fear that the surging demand for sustainable palm oil will leave out small scale farmers have sparked huge interest in helping them out.