Business News of Wednesday, 6 December 2017
A Manager of Ekumfi Fruit Processing Company Ltd., Frederick Kobina Acquah has justified reasons for the delay in construction of the first of government’s many factories to be built in districts across the country; the Ekumfi Juice Factory.
Government, in the run up to the 2016 elections pledged to champion the course for the construction of a factory in each of the country’s districts under the One-District-One-Factory initiative.
Eight months into office, President Akufo-Addo, by commissioning the first factory in the Central Region gave Ghanaians an assurance that the initiative indeed is on the right course. At a ceremony at Ekumfi Nanabin in the Central Region the President cut the sod for the construction of the first factory on August 22, 2017.
Concerns have however began emerging some five months after the launch of the factory, many accusing government of deserting something they started and raising the hopes of Ghanaians only to dash them.
Speaking to Ghanaweb on the issue however, Mr. Kobina Acquah explained that government is holding to its promise to fully begin operations at the factory adding however the fact that they are putting the right measures in place to avoid a repeat of the Komenda Sugar Factory situation where the factory had to be shut down eventually for lack of raw materials for production.
He believes the raw materials – pineapples in this case – should be grown first so there will be enough for production when the factory begins full operation.
“For us Komenda has been for us a learning curve, if you are putting up a factory of this magnitude, you would want to first of all be sure of your raw material supply…What we have done while waiting for the funds to be drawn down was to start our outgrower scheme. We are altogether putting together about 5,000 outgrowers who are going to grow two-and-half acres each. Pineapple as we know has a gestation period of between 12 and 14 months”.
“Putting up the factory, setting up the machinery, it takes just about 6 months, so if we are not careful and we want to see block-over-block, what we are going to have is a factory with machines sitting down and then waiting for pineapples so taking lessons from Komenda, we thought that we should start our outgrower scheme first”.
He assured that the project will take off soon adding that funds to facilitate the work have been acquired.
“…talking about the block-over-block, that I tell you, it is just about taking off, there is no problem with lack of funds. If you are drawing money for such a project, the first thing you should do is sustainability and that one you work on your raw materials. Within 6 or 7 months, the factory can be up but where will the pineapple be, so I will prefer to start with my outgrower scheme, get my supplies, and then along the way put in place the factory.
“Setting the machines will take not more that 6 or 7 months, let’s give ourselves some time. It is important that when we say project, we think of it in terms of the building, machines and raw materials”.
Gifty Ohene Konadu coordinator of Government’s one district, one factory policy also speaking to Ghanaweb on the issue on the sidelines of this year’s Ekumfi Nanabin Aboakyer Festival said Exim Bank has released all the monies earmarked for the project while the Italian Company that will oversee the construction of the factory is on site and getting ready for the physical project to start.
The Ekumfi Fruits and Juices Limited is expected to be completed in 2018, with the promise of creating over 4,000 direct jobs and additionally employ some 5,000 out growers.
Out growers from Agona, Gomoa, Ekumfi and other adjoining Districts that have subscribed to growing pineapples are expected to be the suppliers of pineapple to the factory beyond the main supplier of pineapples to the factory.