Export of raw rubber affront to Ghana’s value addition drive – GAWU

The General Agriculture Workers Union (GAWU) of the Trade Union Con­gress has called for a conscious effort to protect investors in the country’s agriculture sector, especially in tree crops.

The government, it said, should uphold the interest of companies going beyond the mark of excellence in the sector through value addition and the creation of sustainable jobs.

Interacting with journalists after the tour of the parts of the plant that was destroyed by the Ghana Rubber Estate Limited (GREL), the General Secretary of GAWU, Mr Edward T. Kareweh, said the government must ban the export of raw rubber because the country has the capacity to add value locally.

He said the current devel­opment where people act with impunity was derailing the gov­ernment’s policy on the rubber industry.

The union, he said, was not happy that the same government policy on the rubber industry, for instance, allows for side buyers to openly purchase raw rubber, and the same policy makes it easy for them to export them without paying taxes.

He, therefore, appealed to the government and agencies responsible for tree crops to take immediate steps to ban the export of raw rubber in order to save the rubber industry and jobs.

“We are not happy with the installed capacity we still export. We must first produce to feed ourselves, produce to feed indus­try then export the excess, but as it is now we shout stop it”.

Mr Kareweh said it was important for the government to ban the export of raw rubber be­cause jobs were at stake, as “more than 70,000 jobs were at stake in the rubber industry”.

He said the country’s total estimated raw material production capacity stands at 100,000 tonnes dry per year, while the combined processing capacity of factories in the country reaches 140,000 tonnes dry per year.

However, even without con­sidering exportation, significant raw material shortfalls of 40,000 tonnes dry remains unsatisfactory. Given this shortfall, the ban on the exportation of raw materials assumes paramount importance for the survival and sustenance of the local industry and jobs in the country.

From the GAWU’s point of view, he said, it is crucial to rec­ognise that maintaining these raw materials within the country was essential to meet the processing demands of domestic factories and ensure their continued oper­ation.

To ensure sustainability and maximum benefit to the country, there was the introduction of the Rubber Out-grower Plantation Project (ROPP) from the interna­tional community managed by the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) and the National Investment Bank (NIB).

Under the ROPP proj­ect, farmers were supported financially to grow more rubber to feed the plants in Ghana. However, due to unregulated and unchecked export of rub­ber, some of these beneficiary farmers have resolved to sale of the raw rubber to these other buyers for raw export and avoid the repayment of the support extended to them.

The danger here, he said, was “failure of beneficiary farm­ers under the ROPP to fulfil their loan repayment obligations by diverting their farm produce to exporters poses a significant financial risk to the key stake­holders involved and extension of the same to others in line to receive support”.

The situation, he noted, also leads to the loss of revenue to the state and the processor, GREL, which is estimated at 139.6 million Euros. Mr Kweweh said these develop­ments called for a full investiga­tion, arrest of perpetrators, and holding them accountable for their actions.

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