The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has inaugurated an 11-member Board of the of the Twifo Oil Palm Plantation (TOPP) in the central region with a pledge to commit more investment to ensure a sustainable oil palm plantation.
Speaking at the inauguration, Dr Akoto said the Tree Crop Development Authority (TCDA) set up by government, is working to position the country to earn $16 billion annually from six selected tree crops in the next eight to 10 years.
The crops, cashew, oil palm, shea, coconut, mango, and rubber, are being promoted under the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) programme with the aim to end the overreliance on cocca as a major export commodity.
"Already the TCDA is making a huge impact on farmers in determining a minimum price for cashew in the Bono, Ahafo and Bono East regions although in its infancy. Last time I checked it was GH¢9 per kilogramme.
"It has an ambitious target of lifting the $2 billion from cocoa to $16 billion with the six crops in the next eight to 10 years. By the end of 2020, a total of 22 million seedlings of the six selected crops had been distributed. Ghanaian farmers have demonstrated their commitment to come along in this new development," he said.
Dr Akoto said the government and Unilever had entered a partnership to transform TOPP into a world-class and sustainable oil palm plantation.
Under the partnership, TOPP and the government will work together by committing more investments into the development and expansion of the plantation, support smallholder farmers and adopt strategies to ensure the plantation improves its impact on the economy.
According to Dr Akoto, Unilever was positioned to take the produce by TOPP to produce all kinds of products for the country's economy and the ECOWAS economy and beyond.
"So, you have a responsibility to ensure that this company grows. You are part of the initiative for the transformation of the economy," he urged the board.
Mr George Oduro, the Board Chairman expressed gratitude for the opportunity and assured of the members readiness to serve to help transform the country's agriculture.
"We are fully aware of the strategic role the TOPP could play in the transformational agenda, more especially in the quest to diversify the economy from cocoa monopoly. It is for this reason that my colleagues and I consider this task as a very important one in ensuring the turn-around of TOPP and make it a profitable entity."
Other members of the board include, Oseadeeyo Kwesi Kennin IV, David Klotey Collison, Kwaku Oppong-Duah and Faris Elias Attricke.
The rest are Dr John Ampontuah Kumah, Richard Twumasi-Ankrah, Prof Yirenkyi Danquah, Daniel Kojo Nyame, Abena Ntrakwah-Mensah and Sekar Ramamoorthy.