Despite taking over a business that had seen better days, Norpalm has managed to become one of Ghanaâ€™s leading palm oil producers thanks to technological advancements and strong customer relationships. WRITTEN BY CHRIS DAVIES
NOTHING VENTURED, NOTHING
Established in 1998 to acquire the assets of state owned National Oil Palm Plantations Limited, Norpalm Ghana continues to be one of the country’s prominent crude palm oil and crude palm kernel oil producers. The company took over operational responsibility of Ghana’s oldest plantation in September 2000 after the government decided to divest certain state owned businesses.
or us, the success of Norpalm is that we took a divested
In order to secure and guarantee a supply of raw materials for its
state organisation from almost nothing to a leading
soap business, PZ Cussons Ghana approached Norpalm in 2003 with
business in the country today,” asserts Eric Anang,
a view to form a strategic relationship.
general manager at Norpalm.
“They wanted to have a palm oil supply for production because
“We have been able to meet our stakeholder aspirations - forged
in Ghana all the major plantations are somewhat aligned to an end
very good relationships with our suppliers and customers, taken care
user,” Eric explains. “At this point, sourcing palm oil became an issue
of our shareholders through reasonable dividends and an enhanced
which is where Norpalm came in.”
business, and above all remained profitable with good palm oil prices in the last five years.”
For the past 10 years, Norpalm has supplied all of its production to PZ Cussons after signing an exclusivity arrangement. Although
A chartered accountant by profession, Eric has been with
this ended in March 2013, the company will enter a new agreement
Norpalm for the majority of its existence. He previously held senior
in September to carry on this winning relationship. However,
financial positions at Coopers & Lybrand, DHL and Carson Products
maintaining high standards and continuing to deliver quality products
WA, which is now L’Oreal West Africa.
remains the company’s prime focus.. “We have an excellent relationship with PZ Cussons,”adds Eric.
Ownership and customers
“We have parameters for production, so before we supply to PZ we
The current ownership of Norpalm is a joint venture between
have to meet certain quality standards in terms of fatty acid content,
Norpalm AS (68.6 per cent), based in Norway, and PZ Cussons Ghana
oil moisture etc. For every delivery we make, all of these factors are
(31.4 per cent), a company that produces family care products, with
recorded as part of our quality checks and cross-checked on receipt
notable brands as Imperial Leather and Duck soap.
at PZ’s tank-farms..”
“We knew that in the commodity market things can change and we were hopeful prices would eventually get better,” notes Eric Anang. “We improved the facilities and doubled mill capacity. We also fixed the palm kernel oil station, installed a new boiler to the mill and made a lot of significant investments.”
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Plantation and facilities transformation At the time of taking over the former state owned business, palm oil prices were low, production facilities run down and the plantation was in a poor condition, with trees requiring lots of attention. “The price was around $300 per tonne, compared to last year’s average price of $1150 per tonne,” reveals Eric. “So at that time, things were very bad and we needed to find a way to get going again.” Recognising the potential in the market, Norpalm paid close attention to the plantation and facilities in order to achieve prosperity. Through various upgrades and maximising production to meet market demand, the company began to find success. “We knew that in the commodity market things can change and we were hopeful prices would eventually get better,” notes Eric. “We improved the facilities and doubled mill capacity. We also fixed the palm kernel oil station, installed a new boiler to the mill and made a lot of significant investments.” However, maintaining the estate and updating the premises is an ongoing process at Norpalm, as the company continues to put its faith in technology. Without certain advancements, Eric believes Norpalm would struggle to operate and remain in business. “We have put in standby equipment to operate 24 hours a day without any breaks during the peak season,” he says. “So we can maintain 30 metric tonnes per hour, but have backup for key equipment like a press and digester, should a breakdown occur. . We try to always maintain this rate of throughput. If we cannot make our volumes, we cannot survive, so every effort has been made not to lose any fruit during the peak season.” Although the boiler is a significant part of the production process,
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as it helps to sterilise and cook the fruit before processing, Norpalm has managed to utilise this piece of machinery for other uses. “With the steam it generates, we have a steam turbine to produce our own electricity, close to 1 megawatt of power from our own operations,” cites Eric.
Recognising what is required Norpalm currently has around 280 members of staff on the payroll., Due to the seasonality of the business , additional workers are taken on between January and June. During this six-month period, 70 per cent of the company’s annual production takes place, so meeting requirements through addition recruitment is vital. To ensure each and every worker is able to carry out their job competently, various training schemes exist. “We perform annual appraisals to come up with individual and departmental requirements,” says Eric. “We then organise training
Process & Plant Sales (GH) Ltd
programmes for the needs we identify.
Head Office, Tema Thokey House, Room 301, Community Four, Tema, Ghana. Tel: 00 233 (0303) 207709 Fax: 00 233 (0303) 207710 Web: www.ppsghana.com
PPS QP.indd 1
“We have contract staff who carry out various maintenance operations within the the plantation, harvest the fruit, apply fertiliser and other activities, all of which is sub-contracted. Over 1000 employees are involved in the plantation operation.”
CHEMICO LIMITED Although Norpalm is also eager to recover as much oil as possible, this isn’t possible if the fruit is of low quality. Therefore, the company is working alongside the community to improve yields by providing them with high quality seedlings for planting. This not only has the potential to increase efficiency for Norpalm, it will also improve the local economy. “We are developing relationships with farmers to produce a higher quality crop that they can sell back to us in the future,” reveals Eric. “We are able to mill or process over 80,000 tonnes of fruit per annum, but about 60 per cent of this is sourced from outside
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independent outgrower farmers. Our main aim is to improve the yields from these outgrowers.” Reflecting on the company’s achievements, Eric is proud about how far Norpalm has come and remains positive about what the future has in store. “We pride ourselves on being one of the leading palm oil companies in Ghana. From nowhere, we have achieved a lot in the past 12-13 years and can now be seen as one of the top four in the country. “We believe that in the future, profitability is the key, especially when it comes to the standard of fruit and processing everything we obtain,” he signs off.
Chemico presents the opportunity for sustainable oil palm intensification by installing a state of the art bulk fertilizer blending plant in Ghana to provide specialized mineral fertilizers for the oil palm and other crops. Chemico has also developed a special oil palm fertilizer (NPK 10:10:30) and micromate oil palm (Cu 20%, Zn 10% S6%)
NPK 10-10-30 – Special Oil palm fertilizer
Comm. One Industrial Area, P. O. Box CO.950,Tema, Ghana TEL: 233-303-202991, 202992 FAX: 233-303-202000 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chemico QP.indd 1
NORPALM 00233 31 2093295 WWW.NORPALMGH.COM