[From ANIEKAN ANIEKAN, Calabar]
A Netherlands-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), Solidaridad West Africa and four others have partnered to boost oil palm production in Cross River State.
Other NGOs are; the Food and Health Initiative, Green Aid Africa, Youth Training Hub Africa and the Centre for Community Empowerment and Peace Initiative.
Speaking after an assessment tour of 36 communities and 5 local government areas in the state, Vicky O’Neill from the Food and Health Initiative said the aim of the partnership is to entrench Best Management Practices in oil palm cultivation in the state.
She said they work with communities to improve oil palm production through different community facilitators.
“We work in communities to improve oil palm production and ensure that their yield is better than what they had before.
“We have been to Ikom, Biase, Obubra Bekwarra, Ugep and have this far covered 36 communities across the state.
“We have gone there to know their needs and the intervention is not to give them money but better seedlings and inputs that will ensure better yields.
“We also hope to assist them with farm tools that will enable them farm. Some of the lack these inputs as well as access to farms and markets. So this is where Solidaridad and its partners can intervene”, she said.
She added that in order to improve access to finance, the Voluntary Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) has been created where oil palm farmers borrow money and be educated on effective use of financial resources.
She added that if they key into these Best Management Practices, their fortunes will improve and they will maximize their yields.
Also speaking, Okokon Ide Bassey from Green Aid Africa said bush burning triggers climate change and oil palm farmers have been educated to desist from this.
He said there is a better way Solidaridad has shown oil palm farmers because burning the bush is on the risk side and bush burning hampers the yield of the palm.
Besides Cross River State, Solidaridad West Africa operates in Enugu, Kogi and Akwa Ibom as well as Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The organisation focuses on stimulating sustainable supply chains through innovations in production, marketing, trade relations, landscape management and policy enabling.
Solidaridad West Africa has been at the forefront of promoting yield intensification through the implementation of Best Management Practices to improve oil palm farm, mill profitability and sustainability.