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04 April 2013

Giant palm oil factory inaugurated in the Mak/Betchou forest area

Posted in News, Views 1331

A palm oil producing factory with the capacity of producing up to two tons of palm oil a day has been installed in Essoh Attah village. The palm oil mill was installed on March 1 by the Environment and Rural Development Foundation,(ERuDeF) in a ceremony that brought together traditional authorities and communities around the proposed Mak/Betchou Wildlife Sanctuary, and the staff of ERuDeF. Speaking during this ceremony, an Abebue Village notable, Mr. Daniel Morfow, representing the traditional ruler of Abebue, His Royal Highness Chief Fobesong, thanked ERuDeF and her partner organizations for choosing his community out of many other communities to install the oil mill. He wished they could be given trucks to aid in the transportation of palm nuts to the factory and palm oil to the market pledging to support ERuDeF in conserving threatened wildlife species and protecting the forest (the Mak/Betchou forest). On his part, the traditional ruler of Essoh Attah village, HRM, Fon Foreke, overwhelmed with joy, implored the people to extend palm plantations and limit their rate of invading the forest. “This oil mill has come to help us produce palm oil in large scale, sell, send our children to school and improve our standard of living. So we must take advantage of this, collaborate with ERuDeF and divert our attention from hunting wildlife to concentrating our palms” he reiterated. The traditional ruler further expressed his gratitude to ERuDeF and partners for “thinking about the people of this forest area” pleading that subsidiary industries be created to convert the end products of the oil mill to other marketable products like soap and kernel oil. Being the first of its kind in this forest area, village palm oil producers could not help but thank ERuDeF and its partners especially given the laborious, energy and time consuming nature of the traditional method of palm oil they used before now . “We want to say a big thank you to ERuDeF for this Palm oil mill. Our lifestyles can never be the same. We would no longer waste time in boiling, pounding, and washing palm nuts to produce oil again. ” Nketa Pauline, a village Palm oil producer testified (in Pidgin English). Another village palm oil producer, Pa Nkemdong Boniface, while praising ERuDeF for this novelty, recalled the inconveniences of the old traditional system of palm oil production. “The traditional system used to cause us chest and waste pain because it was very stressful and cumbersome. I am sure that with this new system, our health system will be improved upon….in fact chest and waste pains will be issues of the past” he added. The traditional ruler of Alasoeh Village, His Royal Highness Chief Fualasoeh, on his part, expressed his desire for ERuDeF to also establish a branch of their micro-finance institution, the Biodiversity Community Trust, in Mak/betchou. He said given that the oil mill will increase income, the micro finance institution is necessary for saving. Reacting to these, the CEO of ERuDeF, Louis Nkembi appreciated the people for their collaboration this far adding that the oil mill has come to support the project for the conservation of great apes in the Mak/Betchou forest areas like Chimpanzees and gorillas. Louis Nkembi told the local population that the palm oil factory has come to assist in reducing the pressure they exert on the habitat of wildlife, and to generate more jobs to people who live and depend on forest resources. He equally advised the people of this forest area to sustainably manage the mill. “This project is not for personal ends but to support communities and the conservation of natural resources in the area so that the income coming from the mill will generate more projects for people from this area.” Mr. Louis reminded. According to the ERuDeF Project Coordinator, Mr. Forbe Hudo, the project which stands at the tune of 12 million francs can bring about up to 60 percent increase in palm oil production if used cautiously. The installation of this oil mill it would be noted brings the total of oil mills to four including the one in Bechati pending installation within the Lebialem Highlands conservation complex. By Betrand N. Shancho