Kusi(E/R) March 22 GNA - The Minister of Trade, Industry and President's Special Initiative (PSI), Mr Alan Kyeremanten has visited three oil palm nurseries in the Kwaebibrem district of the Eastern Region, which were producing 400,000 seedlings as part of the PSI on oil palm.
They are the Oil Palm Research Institute (OPRI) at Kusi, which is nursing 200,000 seedlings, and the Sarpcoe and Oboome nurseries at Okyinso and Damang respectively, which are producing 100,000 seedlings each.
In all, 12 oil palm operators in five regions are presently nursing 1.2 million seedlings for cultivation under the PIS. Mr Alan Kyeremanten said the PSI was aimed at creating employment, income generation and poverty alleviation in the rural areas.
The Minister expressed satisfaction at work at the nurseries and hoped the chiefs and people would embrace the initiative by making land easily available for oil palm plantation.
Speaking at a gathering of the chiefs and people and members of the Kwaebibrem district assembly at Kade, Mr Kyerematen explained that the PIS on Oil Palm would ensure that the oil palm industry became one of the new strategies of growth and wealth creation in Ghana.
Mr Kyerematen said foreign and domestic investors would put 100,000 hectares of land under oil plantations cultivation over the next five years to meet local demand and would expand the project to 300,000 hectares over the next 15 years to meet demand in West Africa. She the OPRI had been contracted to produce high-yielding, disease, pest and draught resistant oil palm seedlings.
The Minister said government has so far committed 23 billion cedis for nursing seedlings in the hi-tech computerised nurseries. Mr Kyerematen said the seedlings would be sold to farmer's groups who would also benefit from credit and other inputs to develop oil palm plantations.
He said government would assist farmers groups in joint ventures with strategic partners to acquire processing plants under a new Corporate Village Enterprise (COVE) model.
The Minster said under the scheme, agro-processing companies would be established in rural communities with active and supported by the government.
Osabarima Atwere Bediako 11, chief of Kusi, praised President Kufuor for his special initiative on oil palm and pledged the support of the chiefs and people to the project.