Money does not grow on trees but for oil palm farmers, money indeed grows on trees. Smallholder oil palm farmers strive to improve their yield by constantly nurturing their oil palm trees. Harvesting fresh fruit bunches- the raw material for palm oil mills- is one of the vital processes, and failure to harvest properly or in time may lead to a loss in yield and income. If fruit bunches are not harvested on time, they rot on the palm and accumulate free fatty acids resulting in losses to the farmer and poor-quality cooking oil. Such bunches are also not off-taken by buyers. For this reason, farmers are constantly looking for ways to minimize losses while harvesting.
One of the key objectives of partnership between Okomu and 2SCALE is to enhance production of quality palm oil. For Okomu to meet its demand for raw materials, integrating smallholder farmers, and improving their production capacity is key. Consequentially, smallholder farmers have been provided with quality Tenera seedlings, – a hybrid oil palm variety with a high yield potential
Oil palm trees produce a large number of fresh fruit bunches. Palms grow to about 18 meters tall and each tree can produce about 10-12 FFBs yearly with each bunch weighing about 15-25kgs during the ages of 8-20 years. Proper harvesting of these fresh fruit bunches is vital in getting the best out of the farm. It also requires skilled labour to efficiently harvest without causing bruises to the fruits. The person harvesting must use proper harvesting equipment and be aware of safe harvesting techniques so as not to put themselves at risk. Training is thus essential to ensure the adoption of the best harvesting techniques by the harvesters.