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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rubber, No 1 Foreign Exchange in Ghana

Rubber could be the number one foreign exchange income earner in the next five years, Mr. Marc Genot, Managing Director of Ghana Rubber Estates Limited (GREL), has predicted.

Ghana's reliance on cocoa exports for most of its foreign exchange could soon be replaced by rubber and more people will also live of it.

Mr. Marc Genot who was addressing a media day at GREL on Tuesday, said the contribution of GREL in the economies of the Western, Central and parts of Ashanti regions was enormous as it currently provides employment for over 6,000 farmers through its Rubber Out-grower Scheme.

He said 80 per cent of its income remains in the three regions and between 1995 to this year, a total of 14,785.56 hectares of rubber had been cultivated engaging 3,880 out-grower farmers.

"So far 868 out-grower farms cultivated over 2,947.05 hectares are currently being tapped for rubber".

Mr. Genot 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.

He said the role of out growers in the life of GREL is enormous and all efforts will be made by the company to assist farmers to meet the expected needs of the company.

Mr. Emmanuel Akwasi Owusu, Officers in-charge Out-grower projects, said the scheme was an initiative of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) and targeted women.

He said 30 per cent of the companies farmers are women and to facilitate and make their participation effective and less stressful, the company provides loans for its farmers.

He said the farmers are then encouraged to use the banks to access their loans, repay the same and seek professional advice from the company while selling the natural unprocessed rubber to the company at economic rates.

Mr. Owusu said land administration and documentation were major challenges that confront most of the farmers and the company assists in resolving and assisting them to legally register and demarcate their boundaries.

He noted that stealing of natural rubber from farms was a major challenge and that the help of the regional security was being sought to stop the act.

Mr. Owusu said the role of GREL in the rubber industry has minimised the rural urban drift, increased income levels for farmers and their relatives, regularised the rainfall pattern, created employment opportunities for the farmers and the youth within the 88 catchment communities.


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