Ghana Launches Sunflower Cultivation Project

sunflower cultivation project

Ghana Launches Sunflower Cultivation Project – In a bid to significantly reduce its reliance on imported sunflower oil, Ghana has unveiled an ambitious initiative. The Tropical Agricultural Marketing and Consultancy Services (TRAGRIMACS) recently launched the Ghana Sunflower Project, aimed at cultivating sunflower in substantial quantities within the country starting from 2024.

The Sunflower Cultivation Project

Collaborating with the Crop Science Department of the University of Ghana (UG) and the Chemistry Department of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), the project seeks to address the pressing issue of sunflower oil imports. This move aligns with Ghana’s National Policy on Agricultural Industrialisation, which emphasizes self-sufficiency in key agricultural products.

Presently, Ghana annually imports sunflower oil valued at approximately $4 million to meet the needs of fish processing companies. These companies then export fish flakes, prepared using sunflower oil, contributing to an export value of around $147 million. This requirement stems from regulations set by the US Food and Drugs Authority, mandating the use of sunflower oil for preparing fish flakes.

Current Industry

Mr. Issah Sulemana, the Chief Executive of TRAGRIMACS, highlighted that the sunflower industry in Ghana is worth over $152 million, with growing awareness of the health benefits associated with sunflower oil leading more households to embrace its usage. Furthermore, cultivating sunflowers for oil production can have a positive impact on the environment, potentially leading to carbon credit for Ghana.

Speaking on the environmental aspect, Mr. Sulemana stated, “The biodiesel extracted from sunflowers can be burnt to reduce carbon imprint in the environment. Sunflowers also grow well in grasslands and can be used to reclaim all lands degraded by galamsey.” The project’s dual focus on economic viability and environmental sustainability underscores its strategic importance.

Apart from reducing imports and enhancing food security, the Ghana Sunflower Project aims to uplift farmers’ livelihoods and contribute to poverty reduction. By generating income for local farmers, the project envisions fostering sustainable development within Ghana’s agricultural landscape.

Mr. Sulemana further noted the project’s collaboration with the Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC), emphasizing that the initiative’s launch responds to a global decline in sunflower oil production due to the ongoing Ukraine conflict. Traditionally, Russia and Ukraine have been major producers and suppliers of sunflower oil to various parts of the world.

The versatile sunflower plant (Helianthus annuus), recognized for its daisy-like appearance and vibrant colors, has multifaceted uses. From yielding edible oil to providing fodder, dyes, and also lubricants, sunflower stands as a valuable resource.

As Ghana sets its sights on cultivating sunflower in substantial quantities, this initiative not only holds the promise of economic gains but also aligns with the nation’s commitment to sustainability and self-sufficiency.