The minority New Patriotic Party (NPP) caucus in Parliament has raised concerns over the ability of the revampe Komenda Sugar Factory to serve its intended purpose.
According to the minority, the government, for political reasons, inaugurated the factory in haste without putting in place the right structures to sustain the factory.
Addressing the media in the Parliament yesterday, the Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said although, the factory had been inaugurated by President John Dramani Mahama,
it was far from ready to start production because the structures to ensure its sustainable production were not there.
He blamed the government for going ahead with the opening of the factory without dealing with the pertinent issue of poor irrigation confronting outgrower farms to ensure continuous farming of sugar cane which was a water dependent activity.
He said the primary canal that fed farms with irrigation water from the Pra River had long collapsed with no plans in place to address the problem.
Also, he said the reliance on the galamsey polluted Pra-Offn River would challenge the survival of the
factory as the mercury-poisoned water might contaminate the end product.
“Running a sugar plant is like running an oil refnery or aluminum manufacturing industry. Once it is started, it must be kept running otherwise it becomes an expensive white elephant which will keep gulping down colossal expenditure where there is no production,” he said.
He said, “The question to ask therefore, is what the razzmatazz was about, if not to serve as a mere propaganda gimmick by President John Mahama who seems to think that governance is about media blitz.”
In situations where the world sugar prices fell, he said farmers would require fnancial protection to keep the industry working and indicated that the start-off offer price of GH¢60 per tonne was too low to sustain the interest of farmers in the business.
Another challenge the minority leader pointed out was the diversion of farm lands from the production of multi-crop to mono-crop sugar cane which, he said, presented a possibility of food insecurity in the area especially given the fact that the new factory was 25 per cent bigger than the old one.
Also, he said there was no clarity about how the government would manage the factory and stressed the need to invite private sector participation as soon as possible.
“One of the reasons which led to the collapse of both Komenda and Asutuare enterprises of old was the structure of management of the factories which unduly raised the cost of production and made the factories uncompetitive and
the products more expensive than imported sugar,” he said.
By Yaw Kyei