A tour of the controversial government-sponsored GH¢15million (¢150billion) Guinea Fowl Project has yielded a curious head count of 600 birds and a paltry 20 eggs.
The ¢150billion Asongtaba Guinea Fowl Growers Project caused public outrage a few days ago, with accusations that it was one the wasteful ventures of the current National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration.
The project, being managed by privately-owned Asongtaba Cottage Industry, is situated at Sumbrungu, three kilometres from Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region.
The money was doled out by the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) in 2012 to Asongtaba, which had also received GH¢32million (¢320billion) for an afforestation programme by the same SADA.
Asongtaba is a member of the AGAAMS Group owned by Roland Agambire of rlg fame.
The AGAAMS group recently brought into the country Chris Brown, a US pop and R&B singer, and he was reported to have been paid a whopping $1million as appearance fee.
The guinea fowl farm is sited on a 300×200 (feet) land, equivalent to six plots and has an incubator room containing two locally manufactured incubators the size of double-door refrigerators and capable of holding 1000 eggs, but currently holding only 20 eggs. The farm also contains sections for guinea fowl broilers, growers and brooders.
When Daily Guide visited the Asongtaba Guinea Fowl Growers Project farm, very little activity was going on at the site, failing to justify the huge investment in question.
Other departments of the farm are the Grower House to house birds that are growing and then the Parent Stock otherwise known as the Mother House.
From this point, the guinea fowls are ready for sale or processing.
Upper East Farms Operations Officer John Agolmah, who conducted DAILY GUIDE round the farm, said the project is using the traditional way of rearing guinea fowls, so as to maintain the originality of the industry.
As a result, the farm has a large fallow area, where the birds can exercise and also mate to produce fertile eggs for production.
The project has drawn intense public outcry over its price-tag as government coughed up GH¢15 million into the project in 2012.
An additional GH¢32 million had also been disbursed to the company for an attached afforestation project in the SADA region.
It was unclear the criteria used to partner the Asongtaba Cottage Industry, as government officials had failed to explain how the company was selected.
As at press time, attempts to reach the Board Chairman of SADA, Alhasan Andani of Stanbic Bank and Gilbert Iddi, the Chief Executive of SADA, proved futile.
The guinea fowl project, DAILY GUIDE learnt, is a 60/40 percent partnership between the government of Ghana through the Savannah Accelerated Development SADA (40 percent shareholder) and Asongtaba (60 percent shareholder).
The privately-owned company is expected to contribute GH¢25million as its 60 percent equity.
Executive Director of the Asongtaba Cottage Industry and Exchange Programme, Henry Kanga, told DAILY GUIDE that the GH¢15million contribution from SADA was not enough.
“If you were in the soup you would understand the situation. If I am being sincere with you, the level at which we want to take guinea fowl farming to, this GH¢15million is not money that can take us to that
level. Don’t forget that Asongtaba is contributing 60 percent of the entire project,” Mr. Kanga told DAILY GUIDE.
According to him, the project was started as a way of promoting guinea fowl farming on a large scale in the Upper East, and when SADA saw and analyzed the project, it decided to get on board to expand it throughout the SADA operational areas, hence the establishment of the SADA-Asongtaba Guinea Fowl Production and Marketing Company, a joint venture.
“Under this project, there will be a total of 10 cold store facilities across the country to store all packaged birds from any part of the SADA Operational Areas before getting to the market.”
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Efutu, Alex Affenyo Markin, was the first person to blow the cover on how much government was spending to rear guinea fowls.
Mr Markin, last Monday, challenged government on the floor of Parliament to give detailed accounts and breakdown on the amount of money spent on the contentious guinea fowl and tree-planting projects embarked on under SADA.
According to him, there was no evidence the project was actually in existence.
The investments, he said, were allegedly made in 2012 which curiously coincided with the election period, with the NDC being bashed for blatantly decimating public funds on its campaign.
But the MP had been criticized for creating “sensationalism” out of government’s effort to invest funds required to transform the economic situation in the three Northern regions categorized as poor.
“If you take Hon. Markin’s message in Parliament on the surface, you get the impression that government is squandering the nation’s monies on guinea fowl. Guinea fowl production is like working on a fish pond or a poultry farm. You can go around and find out the capital one needs to start such business. Even to produce five hundred broilers, you can go and find out the money needed. The project is to industrialize guinea
fowl production and not the backyard production in the north,” stated Majority Chief Whip, Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak.
The guinea fowl deal has generated a flurry of criticisms on various social media platforms with Ghanaians describing it as “outrageous”.
Source: Ebo Bruce-Quansah, Bolgatanga & Raphael Ofori-Adeniran
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