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Government urged to support smallholder farmers to meet standards   
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Ms Margarete Simons, a Researcher with the Netherlands-based Profundo Research Organization, has called on the government and other stakeholders in the oil palm production value chain, to help build and strengthen the capacities of smallholder farmers and palm oil producers.

She said this would help them attain international certification and standards which could enhance access of their products onto the international markets.

Ms Simons said palm oil exports have huge potential to contribute to the country’s foreign exchange earnings and alleviate poverty among smallholder farmers in rural communities.

She said there is the need for support from all stakeholders to improve the production processes, especially at the farm gate levels to ensure that they were produced under hygienic and sustainable sources to meet international requirements.

Ms Simons, whose organization’s research interest is on sustainable palm oil production in developing countries, made the call at a meeting with members of the Asante Effiduase Kroye Farmers’ Cooperative Union at Effiduase.

The meeting was to discuss with the farmers the processes in palm oil production they could use to enable them attain international certification to enable them export their products onto the international market.

It also created a platform for the farmers to engage the team to identify some areas of the support they could get from the research organization to improve on their production and output.

Ms Simons commended the farmers for coming together and the show of greater commitment to embark on large scale oil palm plantation to boost palm oil production in the area, and said her organization would continue to offer the needed support to help them produce quality product that would meet international standards.

She said Profundo, which 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, currently has 3, 659 members from 92 countries.

Mr Clement Duku, Chairman of the farmers’ union, said members would this year begin the cultivation of 50-hectare oil palm plantation in the area.

He said the group would cultivate 10 hectares together, while individual members would plant the remaining 40 hectares on their own lands.

Mr Duku said the Union was doing this with support from the Asokore Rural Bank, which had opened its doors for members to access credit facilities to purchase seedlings, fertilizers and other inputs for their farms.

Mr Duku said members of the group are determined to use agricultural production to lift themselves from abject poverty and called for support from all to achieve these goal.

Source: GNA

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