President John Mahama has inaugurated the revamped Komenda sugar factory in the Central region, predicting that the manufacturing plant will create over 7,000 direct and indirect jobs.
At a colorful ceremony on the site of the factory, President Mahama said the factory needs “a lot of labour” to grow, harvest and process the raw material needed to feed a manufacturing appetite of 1,250 tonnes of sugar.
The Komenda sugar factory, he said, will pay for transporting of the sugarcane from the farms and buy it from out growers at ¢60cedis per tone. Mahama wants to follow Mauritius’s example where sugar production employs 12% of the island’s population.
The factory was first established in 1960s by Ghana’s first president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was part of his economic policy for industrialization.
It was the heady days of considerable optimism among Ghanaians as Dr. Kwame Nkrumah sought to create a self-reliant economy. But the factory closed down by the end of the 1980s after years of mismanagement took its full toll.
President Mahama said the revamping of the factory resurrects Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s dream and is expected to cut Ghana’s sugar import bill of about $200 million.
Saving this money will be “a major dent on perennial forex fluctuations”, the President said, acknowledging the fact that excessive imports have been the bane of Ghana’s weak currency.
“Every single cube of sugar that we eat here in Ghana is imported..Komenda is going to change that” the President shared his joy with the chiefs and people of Komenda.
The factory needs at least 120 trucks of sugarcane daily. It will also maximize by-products such as ethanol, which is a low cost fuel resource used to power engines.
President Mahama announced that Ghana will export ethanol to cash in on the ethanol industry dominated by the United States, which produced at least 14.8m gallons in 2015.
Ghana now rejoins a sugar industry predicted to be worth in the regions of $97.2 billion by 2017.
By 2015, the world sugar production amounted to approximately 175.1 million metric tons. During this period, Asia was the largest sugar-producing region in the world, yielding approximately 66.12 million metric tons of sugar. India, China and Thailand were the region's top sugar producers.
The country is prepared to compete in the sugar industry and government will craft a national sugar policy to create an enabling environment for private players in the sector, President Mahama said.
A Komenda sugar farmers cooperative will also be formed to provide training and financial assistance to members, the president outlined steps to ensure viable production base.
President John Mahama encouraged the chiefs to lease out land to youth interested in farming. He also charged the chiefs to “keep a watchful eye on the factory so that it doesn’t go the way it went”.
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