India provides $27 mn for agro-processing plants in Ghana

May 25th, 2012 - 1:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Accra, May 25 (IANS) India is to provide $27 million for establishing two agro-processing plants for sugarcane and tomatoes in eastern Ghana, Indian High Commissioner Rajinder Bhagat has said.

Bhagat, during a meeting with the Awomefia of Anlo, Togbi Sri, said the Indian government would have majority shares in the plants, which will be set up in the Keta municipality of the Volta region.

Togbi Sri is chief of the people of Anlo, which is the traditional district. Keta is the district headquarters and they all are in the Volta region.

Bhagat said experts from India were expected in Ghana to access the best crop types that would ensure higher yields and ensure good turnover for the farmers who would supply the plants.

In addition to the Keta projects, Ghana has also signed a memorandum of understanding with India that will help 1,000 workers and sugarcane farmers rebuild their lives through a new sugar factory at Kommenda in central Ghana to replace one that was closed down in 1982.

Work at the factory is to be supported with the introduction of new high-yielding and disease-resistant varieties of sugarcane to boost production.

The Kommenda factory, one of the state-owned companies that were built in the 1960s, was closed down following an economic slowdown about 20 years ago.This led to some 3,500 hectares of land remaining fallow and many farmers of the area becoming unemployed and thus increasing poverty in the area.

Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry J.S. Annan said negotiations for the new factory have started and India’s Ex-Im Bank has also started negotiations on its funding.

Reports on the studies done on the new factory have been handed over to the Indian government.

A team from consultancy firm Seftec India has already arrived in Ghana to assess the work required to be done on the factory. The team also met with community leaders and stakeholders to brief them about their work.

Nitin Wagh, a member of the Seftec team, said a new multi-million dollar mill with a capacity to process 1,200 tonnes of sugarcane a day is to be built at a new site in the catchment area for sugar production. He said the plant is likely to be ready within the next two years and about 400 people are expected to be initially employed.

In addition, over 2,000 farmers would benefit and some 10,000 others are likely to benefit indirectly from other jobs that the factory would provide in the area.

Another member of the team, R.P. Singh, said the old sugar mill did not fail for want of the required raw material. “Rather, failure was due to technical and management challenges,” Singh added.

He said when the factory became operational, there were plans to introduce new technology for the cultivation of hybrid sugarcane that would improve yields for farmers and increase their earnings.

(Francis Kokutse can be contacted at fkokutse@hotmail.com)

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