OIL palm growers in Oro province will not be able to meet this year’s target harvest of 170,000 tonnes, the Popondetta office of Oil Palm Industry Corp (Opic) said.
The main reason was the destruction of bridges and feeder roads by Cyclone Guba in 2007.
The province has also suffered a six-month dry season that prevented palm trees from bearing fruits, Graydon Hanguru, Opic field manager, said.
“This is affecting our production … we have dropped a bit on our target,” Mr Hanguru said.
He said production for the last eight months was about 90,000 tonnes only and with the remaining four months, it would be impossible for the province to hit its target.
Higaturu Oil Palm (HOP) general manager Vigy Ponnudurai said global oil palm prices have been increasing and pushing local prices up.
HOP recently built a second mill at its Sumbiripa estate.
Mr Ponnudurai said the operational Mamba mill, which used to process 600 tonnes per day, could only process 250 tonnes due to transport problems caused by the absence of bridge across the Kumusi River.
Mr Hanguru said restoration work in the province especially the provincial capital of Popondetta had been done mainly on the highways and major bridges except the Kumusi bridge.
At least 22 bridges were destroyed and 16 culverts burst open during the floods two years ago.
The Kumusi bridge was also the link between Cargill’s HOP base and the oil mills.
Mr Hanguru said after the floods, buying and transporting of fruits from the coastal areas and other areas that used to access the bridge had been low.
He also said they had waited for counter-funding from the Government on the replanting programme but to no avail.
Mr Hanguru said Opic would head the programme with the support of the divisional managers (DMs) from the company’s five divisions.
The DMs from Iroga, Saiho, Sorovi, Aeka, and Ilimo had been asked to identify at least 100 farmers who would be the first to plant some of the 69,000 seedlings that are being raised in a nursery at HOP.
Mr Hanguru said they aimed to engage about 2,000 growers in the planting programme.
The price per tonne for the harvests was: January – K91.36 per tonne; February – K117/tonne; March – K126.85/tonne; April – K150/tonne; May – K180.54/tonne; June – K199.02; July – K169.15/tonne and August – K138.76/tonne.