Business News of Thursday, 26 May 2016
The Ghana Oil Palm Development Company Limited (GOPDC) is set to expand its operations to include the large-scale cultivation and processing of rubber in the country.
The company has thus commenced the construction of a rubber processing factory with the capacity to process about 15,000 metric tonnes of dry rubber every year by 2020 during the first phase of its production, and to increase the capacity to 20,000 metric tonnes by 2025.
The total investment for the project is estimated to cost over US$50 million with US$15million being channelled into the establishment of the factory while the remaining US$35million would be directed towards ensuring a sustainable supply of seedlings, planting and an appropriate outgrower scheme.
The entire rubber cultivation programme of Nucleus and outgrower scheme is expected to benefit over 20,000 indigenes in the Kwaebibirem district and its surrounding communities within the next four years. The Factory is expected to provide permanent employment to about 650 people in the area, 150 factory staff and 500 agricultural workers.
The Acting Managing Director of GOPDC, Mr Gert Vandersmissen, said the company’s full entry and participation in the rubber production industry’s downstream sector by 2020 could help harness the country’s considerable potential in the cash crop’s cultivation and increase employment generation for the rural communities, as well as provide a source of income for the rural dwellers.
That he said, could help improve the livelihoods of the village communities and help to stimulate both the economic and social development of those areas.
As part of the company’s entry strategy, it has commenced its plantation operation with the planting of approximately 1,000 hectares of rubber trees in the uplands within its existing oil palm plantation. By 2020, the company hopes to plant over 10,000 hectares of rubber trees with 3,000 from its own concession and 7,000 trees from outgrower farm scheme in the area.
There will be about 3,500 farms for the outgrower scheme to aid the supply to feed the factory.
It is currently investing in pilot farms which would involve the selection of farms, pegging, planting, among others.
This is being done along educating and assuring farmers of the viability of rubber farming as a full time venture.
“We have started with outgrower with 50 hectares and next year will increase to 150 hectares. The first phase is pilot farms and after we will train farmers how to tap the trees. That is the most essential part of the job. If you do it wrongly you cannot exploit your trees for the next 30 years. We will train about 3,500 farmers to become specialised tappers,” he said.
He explained that the first tapping from the commercial rubber plantation was projected for 2020 and that will be when trees have reached maturity with an initial estimated output of about 15,000 tonnes per year.