The Asokore Rural Bank Limited at Asokore in the Sekyere East District is working to provide financial support to enable more than 3,000 smallholder farmers in the area to commence commercial oil palm production.
This is part of the bank’s proactive strategies to boost the value chain of commercial oil palm production under the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) – a flagship agricultural development programme of the current government.
Mr Godfred Frank Opoku, the General Manager of the bank, said this at an executive meeting between the bank officials and a Researcher from the Profundo Research Organization in Netherlands, with expertise and research interest in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
He said oil palm production has a strong sustainable base for farmers who are mainly producing on small-scale for subsistence, the local markets and the surrounding oil palm mills such as the Juaben Oil Mill, Sekyere East Cooperative Small-scale Oil Mill, among other processors.
However, a strong financial base in the form of a ‘start-up’ capital to scale up current production to commercial levels, has been a daunting challenge, he said.
“The bank is thus providing financial credits needed to bolster their production and sustainability in order to make use its added advantage - a guarantee for the bank to increase its growth, profitability and sustainability this year, Mr Opoku added.
The General Manager said the bank will be teaming up with the farmers’ associations in the area to facilitate the process of reaching out to the target group.
Ms Margret Simons, Researcher with the Profundo Research Organization, urged the government and all stakeholders within the sector to collaborate efforts to establish and strengthen the capacity of smallholder farmers to meet the RSPO certifications and standards adding that this could enhance opportunities to access the international markets for their produce.
The RSPO was established in 2004 with the objective of promoting the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products through credible global standards and engagements of stakeholders. It currently has 3, 659 members from 92 countries.