Gov't Plans to Boost Palm Oil Production

A FCFA 3.9 billion national programme for the production of improved palm oil seeds was launched in Dibamba last Thursday. Palm oil production in the country could step up in the years ahead if government??s plans are translated into concrete reality by the Dibamba Specialised Centre for Oil Palm Research (CEREPAH). This follows the launching last Thursday December 17, 2009 by the Minister of Scientific Research and Innovation, Madeleine Tchuinte, of a national programme for the production of improved palm oil seeds at the CEREPAH office in Dibamba, Sanaga Maritime Division of the Littoral Region. The programme, to cost FCFA 3, 92 billion, is expected to step up yearly production of palm oil seeds to 5 million by 2012. Officials say this would

help meet the growing demand of the seeds and boost palm oil production in the region and country. Yearly production of seeds by CEREPAH hitherto stood at 700,000 grains and the new programme will not only put at the disposal of farmers high yielding and disease-resistant seeds but the cost would equally be downsized. Each seed under the programme would cost FCFA 200 down from FCFA 235. The new seeds would feed the envisaged 75,000 hectares of new palm plantations. Speaking during the launching ceremony, Madeleine Tchuinte said the programme was testimony of government??s relentless move to boost palm oil production, ensure sufficiency in the country and better the living standards of the population. She said palm oil was essential and supporting its production and sale was synonymous with giving the producers a better life. Its Specificities According to Georges Ngando, head of the genetic improvement section at CEREPAH, the new seeds are different from the natural palms by their high yields. Natural palms, he said, can produce between 0.5 to one ton per hectare while the selected specie of seeds can produce up to 4.5 tons per hectare per year. The height of the crop, he said, would also reduce. The natural palm has a growth rate of 60 centimetres per year, while the new one would have 45 centimetres per year. The reduction in the height facilitates harvest. The Chief of CEREPAH, Paul Koona said the programme will besides ensuring a sustainable palm oil production for consumption within and without the country also improve on the living standards of the population as well as curb rural exodus. While urging CEREPAH officials and the entire Institute of Agricultural Research for Development (IRAD) to work tooth and nail in realising government??s dream through the programme, Madeleine Tchuinte also said the programme will open up research avenues and in so doing, create employment opportunities.

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