19 July 2012
His Excellency Frédéric CLAVIER
Ambassade de France au Ghana,
Embassy of France in Ghana
PO Box 187
Dear Ambassador Clavier:
On behalf of Ghana’s IMANI Centre for Center for Policy and Education, I
commend the Government of France and the Agence Francaise de Developpement
for its support to Ghana’s growing palm oil industry.
Ghana’s Minister for Food and Agriculture, Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi recently
announced that the Agence Francaise de Developpement will help finance two
new small farmer schemes, which will support 750 Ghanaian farmers to
cultivate 3,000 hectares of oil palm trees in the Western Region. This public-private partnership demonstrates that the French Government cares deeply about alleviating poverty in Ghana and achieving the G8 goals of strengthening food security. It is also a welcome sign that the French government intends to follow the tradition of the European Union and other
European countries in supporting agricultural development in Ghana.
Palm oil provides a major source of employment and revenue for the Ghanaian people, with 30,000 farmers engaged in the industry and private small scale farmers accounting for 80 percent of oil palm currently being cultivated. The Ghanaian government has recognized the important role palm oil plays in the economy, investing more than $3 million in the industry
as of 2010, and earlier this month, launched an Oil Palm Development Master Plan, outlining its plans to boost the nation’s competitiveness in the global vegetable oil markets over the next 15 years.
This Development Master Plan takes note of the unmet demand for vegetable oil both domestically and in the region and reflects not only our commitment to oil palm development, but also the growing trend throughout West Africa for supporting the development of domestic agriculture sectors for the dual purpose of achieving food security and increasing prosperity.
The governments of France and Ghana are not alone in recognizing the economic value of palm oil small farmers in Africa. Together with Liberian and Nigeria, the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) has also been supportive of palm oil small farmers in Uganda having previously invested $52 million to support 136,000 Ugandan families and local businesses. In addition, IFAD’s President, Kanayo Nwanze, has spoken out recently in support of small farmers, stating that they “are considered among the most sustainable private-sector enterprises in terms of family inputs and their relation to the land.”
However, in spite of the commendable support from governments and international organizations for Africa’s small farmers, select retailers and manufacturers in France are refusing to source palm oil and actively campaigning against this important vegetable oil. Their actions directly undermine efforts by your government, the Ghanaian government and the
international community to reduce poverty and improve food security in Ghana, and Africa at large.
Take for example, Carrefour, which stopped using palm oil in its chips in favor of more costly and less productive sunflower oil or Supermarché U, which has stated that by 2015 all of its products will be either ‘palm oil-free’ or RSPO certified, a certification scheme that is unaffordable for Ghana’s small farmers. Similarly, since 2010, Casino Group has simply refused to use palm oil in food products on the basis of unconfirmed health grounds even though research confirms that palm oil is as healthy as olive oil, and fortified with nutrients like vitamins A and E.
France-Ghana bilateral relations have been strengthened through your support of our country’s small farmer community and your leadership deserves much praise for advancing this partnership. The Government of France can demonstrate greater support for Ghana’s development by urging these French companies to support Africa’s palm oil farmers and begin using palm oil, once again. By doing so, you can take a stand in support of wealth creation and global food security, and firmly demonstrate France’s commitment to global welfare and prosperity.
IMANI Center for Policy and Education
Mr. Dov ZERAH, Chief Executive Officer, Agence Française de Développement
Mr. Didier MERCIER, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Agence Française de
Mr. Georges PLASSAT, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Carrefour S.A.
Mr. Serge PAPIN, President and Director General, Système U
Mr. Jean-Charles NAOURI, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Casino Group
His Excellency Mr. Kwesi Awoi, Ghanaian Minister for Food and Agriculture
His Excellency Mr. Kanayo Nwanze, President, International Fund for
Agriculture Development (IFAD)
Mr. Bernard BOTTE, Premier Conseiller et Conseiller Presse, Ambassade de
France au Ghana, Embassy of France in Ghana
Mr. Richard KWIATEK, Chef du service économique, Ambassade de France au
Ghana, Embassy of France in Ghana
Mr. Christian JOLY Ph.D , Attaché de Coopération, Ambassade de France au
Ghana, Cooperation Attaché, Embassy of France in Ghana