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30.04.2008 Business & Finance

Swiss to support Allanblackia project with $1m

By Stephen Odoi-Larbi - Ghanaian Chronicle

The Swiss government has earmarked an amount of US$ 1million to support the promotion of Allanblackia seeds in the country.

The promotion, which seeks to provide the use of Allanblackia seeds as an alternative to palm oil for commercial use in products is been supported by the Swiss government through the Dutch firm IUCN in the country, with the view to ensure a sustainable oil chain.

In an interview with the Swiss Ambassador to Ghana at his residence in Accra, His Excellency Nicholas Lang told the paper that his government became more concerned about the project to improve the living conditions of the population and to reduce disparities amongst all countries.

According to the Ambassador, Switzerland focuses its economic development cooperation on the promotion of sustainable economic growth based on a market economy and on the integration of partner countries into the world economy.

He noted that Ghana is the only country in Sub-Saharan Africa amongst seven countries worldwide in which his government concentrates its bilateral economic development cooperation.

The Forestry Research Institute of Ghana, Institute of Cultural Affairs, Technoserve and Unilever Ghana are the main partners of the project.

Emeafa Hardcastle, Economic and Trade Officer at the Swiss Embassy explained that the sustainable harvesting of the Allanblackia seed can act as an important incentive for local communities to maintain and enhance the integrity of their resource, since Unilever Ghana, the buyer, demands that good practices be followed.

According to her, the seeds could be used to produce edible oil that can serve as a substitute for palm oil in the manufacturing of soaps and margarine.

“There is the need to ensure the sustainability of Allanblackia seeds because the revenue generated from it would improve living standards in the country”, she noted.

It would be recalled that in 2004, the Anglo-Dutch international producer of consumer goods, IUCN, joined forces with three leading capacity development and conservation organisations to form a partnership project to extract for the first time on a commercial scale, edible oil from the seeds of the Allanblackia tree, an indigenous tree to West Africa.

The Allanblackia tree is commonly found in parts of West, Central and East Africa (from Sierra Leone to Tanzania). It grows primarily in tropical rainforests, but can also be found on cultivated farmland areas. The oil obtained from the seeds is already used by the local population but, until now, the extracted seed-oil has never been used on a commercial scale.

There are 9 published species of Allanblackia, mostly very similar to each other, but with a particular range within tropical Africa. Most attention is currently focused on A. parviflora (which lives in Upper Guinea, from Ghana westwards); A. floribunda (from Nigeria to DR Congo and Angola) is very similar to A.parviflora, and has frequently been confused in the past; and A. stuhlmannii and A. ulugurensis which occur in East Africa, in the Eastern arc mountains of Tanzania. These species all occur in moist lowland or upland rain forests.

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