Tomato farmers in the country will now have a ready market for their produce as Conserveria Africana Ghana Limited, importers of GINO and POMO tomato pastes set up a 50 million cedis factory to add value to the product.
The state-of-the-art factory with the capacity to produce 25,000 metric tonnes of tomato paste annually, hopes to generate 300 direct employment.
President John Mahama, commissioning the factory in Tema Wednesday, urged Conserveria Africana Ghana Ltd to liaise with the Trade Ministry to revamp the defunct Pwalugu Tomato Factory. The president believes revival of the factory will help reduce over reliance of imported tomato pastes and also create jobs.
Ghana is estimated to consume 100,000 metric tonnes of tomato paste annually at a cost of 100 million dollars. To ensure that the factory succeeds and exports to other African countries, President Mahama reiterated his call on Ghanaians to consume made in Ghana goods so that local industries can produce more to boost Ghana’s transformation agenda of an export-led economy.
“I believe that this factory is going to boost the attainment of our agenda for transforming the Ghanaian economy into an export-led economy. It will also reduce the amount of foreign exchange that we spend each year on items that we have comparative advantage to produce in Ghana.”
Aside tomatoes, the president mentioned five other items which Ghana has strong comparative advantage which must engage the attention of both local and foreign investors. The items are rice, vegetable oil, poultry, aquaculture, and sugar.
According to President Mahama, the country has made remarkable improvement cutting down the importation of rice as local production reaches 60%. Government is making remarkable progress in improving sugar, poultry and aquaculture production in Ghana, he added.
“Government is investing in both the poultry sector and aquaculture sector in order to increase production… With fish, the investment we have made has seen an increase in aquaculture, from 5,000 tons to 30,000 and our intention is to increase that to a 100,000 tones by the year 2020”.
He assured the company of government’s unflinching support to ensure that the factory succeeds.
The President noted that as Conserveria Africana aimed to use Ghana as its base to export to other West African countries, it must ensure that at least 60% of its procurement are sourced locally.
Managing Director of Conserveria Africana Ghana Limited, Rajib Chattopadhyay said the company plans to invest 100 million cedis into its operations in Ghana over a five-year period.
“We started with a dream to migrate from finished goods imports to a sustainable model of locally manufactured tomato paste right here in Ghana. We started our journey to fulfill this vision in 2012 with a budget outlay of over GH₵100million over five years. Since then, we have already invested around GH₵50million in building local capacities,” he said.
He pointed out that, “the positive response that we have got from our first phase investment has motivated us to go ahead with the execution of balance outlay of GHC 50 million by 2017.”
Rajib Chattopadhyay hoped in the next 5 to 10 years the company would complete its backward integration: ensuring that everything used in the factory is from Ghana.
“We also have a vision to extend our current efforts to develop a sustainable raw material base originating in Ghana itself through backward integration,” he stressed. “This will enable Ghana to not only meet its annual demand in excess of 70,000 MT of tomato paste, save more than 100 million USD in foreign exchange, but also give its farmers a sustainable means of livelihood and increase the employment opportunities across a broad range of primary and support industries in the region.”
Later in an interview with the media, Rajib Chattopadhyay promised to discuss the challenge thrown to them by the president to revive the Pwalugu tomato factory with their investors.
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