GHANA: USD 50 million expected from rubber exports

Government is hopeful of earning approximately US$50 million from the export of rubber by 2017. About 95 percent of the country's rubber produce is exported to France, Turkey, East Africa and South Korea. Ghana also exports to neighboring Burkina Faso.

Presently, approximately 11,255 hectares of land are under cultivation - producing over 16,000 metric tones as of 2009. The rubber plant has a productive lifespan of 35 years.

Joseph Baidoo-Williams, Coordinator, Perennial Corps Programme at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, said that government's programme for the promotion of perennial crops has advanced 1.5 million euro to Ghana Rubber Estate Limited (GREL) to undertake extension services to the small out-grower farmers in the Western and Central region.

He explained that between 2006-2011, government is expected to pay 3.5 million euro to GREL for the cost of extension services. And, so far, 2.4 million euro has been paid to GREL to this effect.

Mr. Baidoo-Williams indicated that 7.4 million euro has also been disbursed to National Investment Bank (NIB) to finance the cost of development of the out-grower plantation, while 757,400 euro has also been disbursed to the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) to maintain and ensure sustainability of the farms.

"The contribution of rubber cultivation to employment-generation is enormous as it currently provides employment for over 37,083 farmers through its Rubber Out-grower Scheme. "It has a potential of employing additional 2,250 tappers for 9,000 hectare - of which 25 percent are females.”

He explained that 10,500 hectares of rubber trees will be planted between this year and 2014, and this phase of the project will employ an additional 2,750 farmers. The rubber industry has minimised rural urban drift, increased income levels for farmers and their relatives, regularised the rainfall pattern, and created employment opportunities for the farmers.

(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)