Sekondi, May 22, GNA - The Benso Oil Palm Plantation (BOPP) made a profit of 5.1 billion cedis in 2004, after tax.
This was against 14.7 billion cedis profit the company made after tax in 2003.
In spite of the high operational costs the company suffered in its operations in 2004, the Board of Directors have decided to recommend to members the payments of dividends of 2.5 billion cedis, being 73.40 cedis per share for the year ended December 31, 2004. These were contained in an annual report and financial statements for 2004 presented by the Board of Directors at the first annual general meeting of the company at Sekondi at the weekend.
BOPP, formerly a private company with only four shareholders now has a shareholding of over 12,000 as a public liability company since it became the first agro-based company to be listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange on August 31, 2004.
In an address, Dr. Ishmael Yamson, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the company attributed the low performance to leaf miner infestation, which impacted adversely on crop yield and consequently palm oil production in 2004.
He said the leaf miner pest would always be found in any plantation anywhere in the world.
"And as we are also experiencing some deterioration in rainfall patterns in our area of location, it now demands that we focus even more on the detection and control of the pests."
Dr. Yamson said the company had instituted a vigorous, more regular and elaborate surveillance and monitoring system over and above the normal.
The company, he said, would also now stock the chemical used on treating the infestation in the event of unexpected attack to ensure high standard of control and to avoid any chance of the pest wrecking any havoc in the future.
Dr. Yamson said the oil palm industry in Ghana was also undertaking research into how this pest could be controlled in the Ghanaian climate.
On the company's responsibility to the Benso and Adum Banso communities in which they operate, Mr. Yamson said the company would focus largely on education.
He said last year the company rehabilitated and refitted the Benso Secondary/Technical School laboratory at a cost of 100 million cedis. Dr. Yamson said the company would follow many other projects that would promote education in the area and work in close collaboration with the communities in deciding which projects to tackle. He said the oil pal business was creating wealth and was helping to transform the rural community.
He said another critical problem facing the company was pricing saying this year BOPP was experiencing a depression the world market price of palm oil, which had fallen far below what the market expected. Dr. Yamson said the average annual world market prices for 2003 and 2004 were US 442 dollars and US 465 dollars and this year the price averaged US 417 dollars showing a considerable drop over last year. "What this means is that although volumes have recovered the price levels will adversely affect turnover and profitability in 2005," he said.
Dr. Yamson said the company was taking a number of measures aimed at ensuring not only a speedy return to strong profitability but also long-term viability of the company.
These, he said, included extensive restructuring of processes, systems and structures and expanding the area of out-grower purchases. Besides, he said the company also purchased fruits worth 17.0 billion cedis from private individual farmers located outside the plantation sometimes 100 kilometres away from Benson.
"BOPP therefore created wealth of approximately 80 billion cedis in the community excluding payments to its employees and social services it provided," he added. 22 May 05