Palm Oil fruit shortage hits 2 Oro mills

Bad road networks preventing supplies from reaching mills  (source The National)

The two palm oil mills in Oro province have been hit by shortage of palm oil fruits for processing.

This was disclosed yesterday by CTP Cargill Group's Higaturu Oil Palm (HOP) general manager Vigy Ponnudurai, who said the mills are getting less supply of oil palm fruits from local producers.

The two mill facilities are based at 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 palm plantations and the processing plants (Mamba is located near Kokoda - about 70 kilometres from Popondetta whereas Sumbiripa is in close proximity), deliveries of fruit bunches have slowed down, Mr Ponnudurai said.

Major roads systems and bridges were destroyed during Cyclone Guba in 2007 and there has been slow progress to normalcy since.

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 low...normally in December, the yield is high but this time it is very low," Mr Ponndurai said.

Until now, the Kumusi Bridge has remained unrepaired while Girua bridge has suffered constant battering from renewed floods and heavy rains.

Mr Ponndurai said these two major broken links was preventing palm block owners from delivering their produce to the mills.

Company hauling trucks are also stretched to the limit and cannot reach the block owners to collect the fruits either.

The Sumbiripa mill was only built recently and started operating last month after new turbines were brought in from Colombo.

The Oil Palm Industry Corporation (OPIC) reported that oil palm growers in Popondetta failed to meet their output target of 170,000 tonnes of fruit last year. OPIC cited the poor road conditions and the dry spell between January & June which resulted in only 90,000 of fruit being milled.



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