President John Dramani Mahama on Monday inaugurated the revamped Komenda Sugar Factory in the Komenda-Edina –Eguafo-Abrem municipality of the Central Region.
Funded with a bilateral credit agreement between the Indian and Ghana governments, the factory has the capacity to crush 1,250 tonnes of sugarcane daily, 250 tonnes more than the previous factory, which was built in 1966 by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president.
The factory, in full production, would create direct and indirect jobs for about 7,300 people, save the country an estimate 200 million dollars yearly on importation of sugar, and make the country independent of imported sugar.
Addressing a durbar of chiefs and people of the municipality and other stakeholders, President Mahama praised the late President John Evans Atta Mills, who initiated the revamp plan, adding that the execution of the plan was an opportunity to relive the dream of Dr. Nkrumah.
President Mahama said the factory would also bagasse from the sugarcane fibre, which would be used to produce three megawatts of power, two megawatts of which would be used at the factory, while the rest would be fed into the national grid.
Other by-products include molasses, which would be sold to beverage industries for production of alcohol or processed into ethanol, a very important export commodity which could be used as fuel for vehicles.
Additionally, the by-product of the sugar processing would result in bio composed fertiliser, which would be used to fertilise sugarcane and other crops, instead of chemical fertiliser.
President Mahama said the factory was poised to buy all sugarcane from all outgrowers from the catchment area at Gh¢60 per tone, adding that because of the collapse of the old factory , many lands were turned into the production of other crops and as a result, available land could produce only 10,000 tonnes.
To ensure a sustainable raw material for the factory, he said, a 24.5 million dollar facility had been approved by the government of India for the cultivation of sugarcane plantation with irrigation facilities for more than 2000 acres of land and also support outgrowers.
President Mahama said government was pursuing other similar sugar industry projects, currently at design stage, in Greater Accra, Volta and Northern region, and that as Komenda had succeeded, others would, and added that a national sugar policy was being designed to further develop the industry.
He expressed gratitude to the Indian government for the support, commended the construction team that worked to complete the factory ahead of schedule, tasked management and workers to work diligently, and urged chiefs and other stakeholders to ensure that the factory does not collapse.
Mr. Pradbep Gupta, first Secretary to the High Commission of India, said the factory was a symbol of Ghana and Indian cooperation, which has resurrected Komenda, and that it would create employment for many and reduce the import of sugar into the country.
The Central Regional Minister, Mr. George Kweku Rickett Hagan, said the factory was one of the numerous projects being undertaken in the region to provide employment, and urged management of the factory to ensure its sustenance.
Mr. Ekow Spio Garbarh, Minister of Trade and Industry, said the ministry would ensure the sustainability of the factory, and called on investors especially Ghanaians to show interest in the business.
Nana Kodwo Kru II, Paramount Chief of Komenda traditional area, said the revamping of the factory had brought Komenda back to life, and appealed to all stakeholders to play their roles to prevent another collapse.
He appealed to government to provide financial support to sugar cane farmers, fix irrigation canals, rehabilitate feeder roads to aid transportation of the sugar cane and give favorable prices to sugar to attract more farmers to grow sugarcane instead of other crops.
He expressed gratitude to government and promised to give the needed support and cooperation to ensure the sustainability of the factory.
From Jonathan Donkor, Komenda