Solidaridad West Africa as part of the second phase of the Sustainable West Africa Oil Palm Programme (SWAPP II) has mobilised a total of 4 million euros from financial institutions for participating small and medium enterprises.
An amount of 1.9 million euros was also mobilised by Village Savings and Loans Associations, established under the programme.
Mr Isaac Gyamfi, the Regional Director for Solidaridad West Africa, speaking at the close-out event of the programme, said, “It is worth noting that with the support, collaboration and additional financing from the German government, oil palm is now one of the few agricultural Technical and Vocational Education and Training that has a nationally accredited in the competency-based training curriculum with accredited schools.”
The four-year programme, implemented between 2018 and 2022, sought to transform the West African palm oil sector into an inclusive and sustainable sector through micro, small and medium enterprises that provide large-scale yield intensification and farm rehabilitation services to oil palm farmers and efficient processing of fresh fruits bunches in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
He said aside from strengthening the capacity of project beneficiaries, the programme engaged financial institutions to build their capacity to enable them to support the farmers.
“As part of the process, 113 financial institutions and impact investors were engaged, 56 financial institutions were trained in oil palm business appraisal,” he said.
He said under the programme, 384 Village Savings and Loans Associations were established by Solidaridad and successfully linked to financial institutions Mr Gyamfi said to achieve the goal set out, the programme focused on improving access to finance and providing technical support for small and medium enterprises based on two complementary business cases.
These are the establishment of rural service centres supplying farmers with the necessary inputs and best management practices (BMP) for the cultivation of oil palm and the establishment of more efficient and environmentally sound SME milling operations SWAPP II, which was co-funded by the Swiss Government through the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and the Embassy of the Netherlands in Accra, follows the successful implementation of the first phase (2013-2017).
It demonstrated the business case for developing a sustainable West African oil palm and processing sector along the lines of small and medium enterprises.
He said a total of 53,602 beneficiaries were reached in the four implementing countries.
The Regional Director said the programme resulted in increased oil palm farm yield of beneficiary smallholder farmers from an average of 5.2 to 9.1 tonnes per hectare.
He said seven improved oil palm mills were constructed, while 13 were also upgraded as part of efforts to increase productivity with the programme supporting small and medium enterprises to establish 55 Rural Service Centres.
These enterprises provided services to 12,263 smallholder farmers.
He said in Ghana, Solidaridad strengthened the Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana as the umbrella private sector Association for the sector and built its capacity to contribute to the advocacy for the establishment of the Tree Crop Development Authority.
Under the programme, Solidaridad and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) under the Ghana Skills Development Initiative, jointly developed the curriculum for competency-based training in oil palm. The curriculum is accredited by the Commission for Technical and Vocational Education and Training.
Five hundred and six youth received training in four out of the six competency areas in the first quarter of 2021 and 36% of them have been employed in the sector.
Madam Anne Schick, Acting Head of Cooperation, Embassy of Switzerland in Ghana, indicated that through the programme, significant progress had been made in the development of a sustainable and competitive oil palm sector in Ghana.
“I appreciate the good work that has been done by Solidaridad together with partners. Through SWAPP II, the government and people of Switzerland are happy to have supported Ghana’s desire to become self-sufficient in palm oil production and related products.”
Madam Schick said the Swiss Government would continue to support the palm oil sector under the Ghana Private Sector Competitiveness Programme Phase II.
Mr Jeroen Verheul, the Dutch Ambassador to Ghana, said the Embassy was excited to have collaborated with the Embassy of Switzerland to co-fund the second phase of the Sustainable West Africa Palm Oil Programme in Ghana.
He said the Embassy’s upcoming cooperation strategy for the next five years in Ghana would focus on trade and jobs, and the cocoa and horticulture sectors.