Technological and Financial Assessment of Small Scale Palm Oil Production in Kwaebibrem District, Ghana

  •  S. Adjei-Nsiah    
  •  A. K. S. Zu    
  •  F. Nimoh    


A study was carried out in the Kwaebibrim District of the Eastern Region of Ghana to study the production practices and the profitability of palm oil production among small scale processors using focus group discussions, semi-structured interviews and participant observations. Three categories of processing equipment namely digester screw press combined, digester with separate hand operated hydraulic press and digester with separate hand operated screw press were found in the district with the latter constituting about 80% of the processing equipment used by the processors. The major activities involved in the processing of fruits into oil are removal of the fruit containing spikelets from the fresh fruit bunches, fruit loosening and storage, boiling and digestion of fruits and pressing and clarifying of the oil produced. Fruits are usually stored for a period ranging from one to four weeks before processing leading often to high levels of free fatty acids in the oil produced. Due to scarcity of firewood in the district, waste lorry tyres and mesocarp fibres are used in place of firewood generating a lot of smoke with serious health risk to processors and other mill workers and the environment. Constraints in the small scale processing industry include inaccessibility to remunerative market especially during the peak fruit production period of February to May, lack of credit and skills and knowledge in good processing practices. The financial appraisal of palm oil production shows that in the peak fruit production period of April-May, processors make a loss of 38% of every cedi in sale in their operations and that the production of palm oil can be a profitable venture only during the lean fruit production season (from September – December) when oil is relatively scarce. The study suggests that to improve the income of small scale processors, there is the need to help the processors change their practices through research but at the same time it also requires work to create entry into the existing value chains through policy (e.g. bye-laws).  

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