157 farmers from the Prestea-Huni-Valley Municipality of the Western Region have received input and capacity support worth GH¢822,000 from Gold Fields Ghana Foundation to go into oil palm farming.
The support covers training and inputs including the supply of 23,005 high-yield Tenera seedlings, fertilizers, weedicides, pesticides, knapsack sprayers, wellington boots and overalls.
Speaking at the launch of the project dubbed “Grow oil palm, secure your future” at Abekoase in the Prestea Huni Valley Municipality, the Regional Sustainability Manager of Gold Fields West Africa Operations, Robert Siaw, said the project beneficiaries strategically include 40% females, and it is to help create jobs for residents in the mines’ catchment communities as well as improve their livelihoods.
He said the reintroduction of the oil palm project follows successes recorded from earlier similar projects in the past in some of its operational communities.
“Gold Fields Foundation with its avowed commitment to help sustain livelihoods in host communities accepted to re-introduce the Oil Palm Project. The importance of oil palm is not lost on all. Its long-life span of over 40 to 70 years on average coupled with the multiple values including broom and basket from the branches, mushrooms even when it is decaying among others ensure long-term income stems to the family,” he said.
Robert Siaw further urged beneficiaries not to abandon the project after the initial benefit.
“We are very much aware that the new world of work is self-employment, and therefore we as a company have initiated a number of skills training for our youth. Besides the skill training, we do entrepreneurial training, all to encourage and facilitate self-employment… Most of the time, we start these programmes with stipends and some allowances as well as other things, but as we wean ourselves out of the programme, beneficiaries also fall off. All because they rather prioritize the stipends and allowances more than the actual implementation of the programme, and so we are encouraging them that this time around, they should look into the future benefit of the programme either than the initial quick means that they get out of the allowances. The other thing is that some of the communities really do not have land to farm, and that is why we combine these programmes with skills training for the communities,” he added.
One of the beneficiary farmers from Huniso, Yaw Ofori, told Citi News about the numerous support farmers have received from Gold Fields over the years.
“One good thing about Gold Fields is that it is not selective in its support to us. As long as you’re committed to what you do and their social support projects, they would definitely support you. I previously received immense support from them for my cocoa farm, so I wasted no time when I heard they were writing names for this project. I have already received my share of the oil palm seedlings that I have planted and other support too, and I know it will be helpful,” he said.
The Director of Agric for the Prestea Huni Valley Municipality, Albert Bonney, while confirming that beneficiary farmers have received the best training in oil palm production to guarantee higher yield also commended Gold Fields for the initiative.
The Grow oil palm and secure your future project follows Gold Fields Foundation’s five-year Sustainable Community Empowerment and Economic Development programme.