Palm oil fruit shortage hits two Oro mills

Business, Main Stories

THE two palm oil mills in Popondetta, Oro province, have been hit by shortage of palm oil fruits for processing.
This was disclosed yesterday by CTP Cargill Group’s HOP general manager Vigy Ponnudurai,  saying the mills are getting less supply of oil palm fruits from local producers.
The two mill facilities are based in Sumbiripa and Mamba estates, with each one processing 30 tonnes of palm oil fruits per hour, for a total of 60 tonnes per hour.
Due to bad roads between oil palm plantations and the processing plants, deliveries of fruit bunches have slowed down, Mr Ponnudurai said.
For instance, of the 1,000 fruit bunches being delivered to the two mills, only about 800 bunches are being processed.
“The crop output is still very down … normally in December, it is usually high (yield), but this time, it is very low,” Mr Ponnudurai said
He said, however, it was expected that yield should pick up by next month, thus boosting the supply to the mills.
One of the main reasons for the low supply of palm fruits was the cut in road system caused by Cyclone Guba in 2007.
Until now, the Kumusi Bridge has remained unfixed, while Girua, from time to time, is being washed down during heavy rains and flooding. 
Mr Ponnudurai said this is preventing oil palm block owners from delivering their produce to the mills.
Because of this, company hauling trucks cannot pick up fruit bunches in many areas.
The Sumbiripa processing plant was only built recently and started operating two weeks ago after its turbines were brought in from Colombo and fitted, bringing the total number of mills in Popondetta to two, with the initially operated Mamba plant.
The Oil Palm Industry Corp (Opic) office in Popondetta said oil palm growers failed to meet their output target last year of 170,000 tonnes of fruits due to long dry season – from  January to June – that prevented many oil palm trees from bearing fruits.
Opic also cited the poor road network condition in the production areas after it was destroyed by cyclone Guba.
Opic’s field manager Graydon Hanguru said production for the eight months from January to August last year was only about 90,000 tonnes, and with the remaining four months, it was unlikely that the province would reach its target.