Benso (W/R) May 12, GNA-The Management of Benso Oil Palm Plantation (BOPP) said a slide in its production over the past couple of years was as a result of the outbreak of leaf miner disease that was caused by erratic rainfall.
The out break of the disease which was detected in 2003, the second time since the establishment of the Plantation 30 year ago, has since been put under control and a monitoring and early warning system had been put in place to avert its recurrence.
This came to light when officials of the company took turns to brief Journalists on the operations and expansion programmes of the Company at Benso in the Ahanta West district on Wednesday.
Mr. Abdul Malik, the Managing Director, Mr. Emmanuel Ahiable, Technical Manager, Mr. David Nunoo Estate Manager, and Mr. Neneyo Mate Kole, Director of Finance took turns to explain aspects of the company's operations and the way forward.
Mr. Kole said the programme to ensure continued viability of BOPP was on course and that last year, about 2.5 billion cedis were spent on the procurement of chemicals to enhance pest control on the plantation and its fringes including those belonging to individual farmers who shared boundaries with BOPP.
He said the decline in production of palm oil was partly due to the fact that the company had replaced overage palm trees in some portions of the plantation with hybrid palm seedlings.
Mr. Kole said BOPP in collaboration with the Achimota Vegetable Oil Mills had established a one million dollar palm kernel oil extraction mill.
He said the company had began exporting kernel shells to some European counties to increase its earnings while the oil mill now has the a capacity to mill between 20 and 25 tons of fresh fruit bunches per hour. Mr. Kole said the decline in the Company's profit in recent times was, therefore, temporary, saying, "the team that led BOPP to achieve good fortunes are still at post and working tirelessly to implement programmes to achieve much improved results".
Mr. Emmanuel Ahiable said BOPP had been supplying high yielding seedlings to the company's out-grower farmers and that last year, BOPP bought 17 billion cedis worth of palm fruits from such farmers thereby reducing poverty among the people.
He said obsolete machines and equipment were being replaced to enhance the company's performance.
Mr. Emmanuel Ahiable also said under its community relation programme, BOPP had provided health, education and water facilities to communities in its operational areas.