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11.11.2005 Business & Finance

PSI reimburses palm nursery operators

By GNA
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Accra, Nov. 11, GNA - The President's Special Initiative (PSI) on Friday paid 2.6 billion cedis management fees to 12 selected farmers operating under the nursery programme of the Oil Palm Research Institute (OPRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The farmers, who completed the two-cycle programme from 2003 to 2005 had between 123 million cedis and 800 million cedis depending on the number of transplantable palm seedlings developed within the period. They were selected from the Brong Ahafo; Western; Ashanti; Eastern; Central and Volta Regions.

The PSI in 2003 tasked the OPRI to link up with selected farmers to raise the requisite high-yielding transplantable seedlings for planting on the targeted 10,000 hectares each year. OPRI and PSI pay 2,000 cedis for each transplantable seedling developed.

These nurseries have been expanded to 32 locations this year. Mr Kwamina Bartels, Minister of Private Sector Development and PSI, said the PSI was an opportunity for the country to demonstrate its commitment to wealth creation, job creation, strong economic growth and improvement in the quality of life in the rural areas by diversifying the economic structures.

He said the development of the first one billion seedlings began in April 2003 and between 2004 and 2005, a total of 2.5 million seedlings had been produced by the OPRI through the nursery operators (farmers). He said the nursery programme was now well entrenched and the 2004/2005 output of the seedlings were sold through a programme at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. The OPRI is expecting to produce about four million seedlings this year.

The Minister said the Government had paid the management fees in the sincere hope that the money might be reinvested in the downstream land development companies and urged them to use the bulk of it to buy shares in their respective PSI Companies.

Under the programme, the farmers would provide a minimum of 1,000 hectares of land devoid of litigation and the OPRI and PSI would provide equipment and nurseries for them.

The farmers would be liable for any destruction of equipment and other properties and the start-up monies would be used solely for the project.

At the end of the programme, the OPRI would remove the equipment and other properties and hand over the land to its owners or sell the equipment and the properties it holds in trust for the Government upon the request of the farmers. The 12 farmers have renewed their agreements for 2006 while new entrants also signed new agreements.

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