Over 300,000 workers in Ghana’s oil palm and refinery sectors are at risk of losing their jobs as the industry faces its worst fears of impending collapse due to the continuous smuggling of vegetable oil from other countries.

The Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana [OPDAG] laments the constant smuggling of vegetable oil to the country through unapproved routes by some traders depriving the local producers of over 600,000 metric tonnes of vegetable oil production monthly.

Speaking at a sensitization workshop held for Accra market women on how to curb the smuggling of vegetable oil into the market, Selorm Quame, Executive Secretary of OPDAG, disclosed there are 560,000 farmers and about 300,000 who are at risk of losing their jobs due to the incessant act of some market women dealing with vegetable oil smugglers.

He noted that the OPDAG cannot assure buyers and consumers of the food safety standards and hygienic conditions under which the smuggled vegetable oil was produced.

He added that the local oil production cannot be compromised because it is done under good hygienic conditions and its food safety standards are certified by the Food and Drugs Authority/Ghana Standard Authority.

“OPDAG is focused on promoting sustainability palm oil production, processing and trading in Ghana” Selorm Quame added

The Chief Executive Officer of the Tree Crop Development Authority (TCDA), Hon. William Agyapong Quaittoo, told the Republic Press that smugglers of cooking oil through the borders invade taxes and sell oil at a price that threatens the survival of the local producers of the oil.

According to him, the local oil producers have constantly battled with unfair competition, incurring more losses.

In his efforts to combat smugglers’ bad practices, he urged market women to work with the task force to root out the bad nuts to help boost local oil production.

Mr. Paul Amaning, Coordinator of the Task Force, noted that TCDA’s main objective is to ensure that locally manufactured cooking oils are sold on the market to help boost the economy and create jobs in the value chain.

Representatives from the Customs Division and National Security, also highlighted a few issues regarding the smuggling of vegetable oil through unapproved routes by some traders.

They urged market women to be guarded according to the laws of the country when buying vegetable oil.

Some market women shared their views on why the TCDA must incorporate them into the task force team to help curb the activities of these smugglers at the various market centres in Accra.

Stakeholders present at the sensitization workshop held at the Accra Metropolitan Assembly office on Tuesday, February 20, 2024, suggested that the government must intervene by discontinuing the implementation of the ECOWAS ETLS concession on refined oil imported from Togo and also restricting the importation of refined vegetable oil for some time to enable the local producers to gain ground.