The National Initiatives for Sustainable and Climate-smart Oil Palm Smallholders (NISCOPS) has been launched by Solidaridad in Accra, Ghana. NISCOPS is a five-year strategic programme aimed to enable governments in key oil palm producing countries to support and work with farmers towards more sustainable, climate smart palm oil production as well as contribute to Paris Agreement, Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) objectives and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The programme is being implemented in Africa (Ghana and Nigeria) and Asia (Indonesia and Malaysia) with the initial funding support from the Government of the Netherlands. The programme has an inception year (2019) with the implementation phase I from 2020 to 2023 and implementation phase II from 2024 and beyond.
The Regional Director, Solidaridad West Africa, Mr. Isaac Gyamfi, during the launch of the programme in Accra, and the inauguration of the programme National Advisory Committee (NAC), says, “We make bold here to say Solidaridad is in term with the current global and local realities especially on climate change and agriculture and we are now using our over 50 years’ experience of both foot and brain on the ground through our works to contribute to shaping practices and policies at local, districts, national and global levels.”
Solidaridad has been in Ghana’s oil palm landscape since 2012 promoting yield intensification at both the farm and mill levels through introduction of Best Management Practices (BMP) and improved processing technology respectively. The organisation has also supported the revitalisation of the Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana (OPDAG). Solidaridad is also said to have also played a role in the establishment of the Tree Crops Development Authority, implemented under the organisation’s Sustainable West Africa Oil Palm Programme (SWAPP).
Analysis from SWAPP shows that an average farm yield of at least 12tons/ha/year for existing farms coupled with oil extraction rate of 18% will make Ghana self-sufficient in Crude Palm Oil (CPO) production. This can only be realised when among other interventions such as BMP, great attention is paid to the impacts of climate change on the sector as well as the contribution of the oil palm sector to climate change.
In his presentation during the event, Dr. Samson Samuel Ogallah, Solidaridad Senior Climate Specialist for Africa and the NISCOPS Technical Coordinator, stated that the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of the programme is built on the three pillars of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) of Productivity, Adaptation and Mitigation.
Dr. Ogallah added that the programme, in addition to its contribution to the NDCs and SDGs of the four countries, is aimed to further build capacity of smallholders (organisations) and local institutions to improve performance as well as support development of landscape level mechanisms to operate in “vulnerable” landscapes prone to deforestation.
In her speech at the event, Katja Lasseur, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Ghana, expressed the commitment of the Government of the Netherlands to the programme and call on other partners and stakeholders to come on board in order to achieve the laudable objectives of the programme.
The Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, in his speech which was delivered on his behalf, stated that agriculture is the backbone of the Ghanaian economy.
Achieving sustainable food security in a world of growing population and changing diets is a major challenge under climate change, he says, adding that climate change will have far-reaching consequences for agriculture that will disproportionately affect poor and marginalised groups who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods and have a lower capacity to adapt.
Dr. Akoto adds: “I am happy to note that the overarching goal of NISCOPS is to contribute towards Ghana’s Nationally Determined Contribution of the Paris Climate Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals through: building the climate resilience of smallholder oil palm farmers and oil palm processors; promoting use of energy efficient cook stoves at the artisanal processing level and; implementing community led adaptation and livelihood diversification programmes.
“I wish to assure you of government support to create the enabling environment for the successful implementation of the programme in selected vulnerable communities in order to replicate it in other sectors of the economy to mitigate the impact of climate change.”
A nine-member National Advisory Committee (NAC) to advise the programme was inaugurated. The NAC members comprised of public and private sector representatives from the Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana, Oil Palm Research Institute, Ministries of Food and Agriculture; Trade and Industry; Local Government and Rural Development; Land and Natural Resources; and, Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (Environmental Protection Agency and Forestry Commission).
NISCOPS is implemented by Solidaridad in Ghana and Solidaridad in partnership with IDH in Indonesia, Malaysia and Nigeria.