Alan Kwadwo Kyeremateng
Alan Kwadwo Kyeremateng

He has therefore called for the immediate passage of the draft sugar policy into law to protect the Komenda sugar factory in the Central region to avert any possible collapse.

Alan Kwadwo Kyeremateng
Alan Kwadwo Kyeremateng

Already, there is a sugar policy before cabinet waiting for approval and subsequent submission to Parliament.

Alan Kyerematen, a renowned industrialist and a former Minister of Trade and Industry under the Kufuor administration, explains that the policy will serve as a legal framework for the sugar industry and also provide incentive for local producers of sugarcane.

The former minister, who was also in charge of the Presidential Special Initiatives (PSIs) which promoted the establishment of the Ayensu Starch Company at Bawjiase in the Central region and other Palm Oil Production Companies in the in the Kwaebibirem District in the Eastern region, in a statement noted that lack of such policy could “pose very serious challenges for the survival of the Komenda Sugar Factory.”

“Because of the nature of competition in the global sugar industry, most sugar-producing countries (over 100 countries in the world produce sugar) have a policy, regulatory and legal framework for the industry, to provide incentives for and protect local producers. Currently, Ghana has no sugar policy or legislation which may pose very serious challenges for the survival of the Komenda Sugar Factory,” he added.

President John Dramani Mahama about two weeks ago inaugurated the 24.5 million dollar Komenda Sugar Factory in the Central Region. During the inauguration of the resuscitated factory, he said the facility, which will create over 7,000 jobs will ensure sustainable development of sugarcane plantations and in turn, harness the continuous growth and smooth running of the facility.

But some Ghanaians have criticized government for opening the factory without taking raw material for the facility into consideration.

However, the Ministry of Trade and Industry in the wake of the politically motivated misinformation to the public sought to clarify the air. It stated that, the raw material required to feed the factory is sugar cane. Prior to the commissioning, a lot of farmers in the 25 communities were identified as potential suppliers with the view to rope them into an out-grower scheme to be supplied with appropriate seedlings to feed the factory. Currently, sugar cane cultivation takes place in an uncoordinated form and the produce is mainly utilized by manufacturers of local alcoholic beverage.

Generally, the yield of sugar cane in the Central and Western regions are good. However, an irrigation scheme for sugar cane cultivation will be undertaken with an additional US$24.5 million loan from the Indian government supported line of credit.

The factory has already started a nursery scheme within land space of 125 acres. These seedlings will be distributed to the out-growers and supported with best agronomics practice to help increase and sustain the raw material supply to the factory.

Another irrigation scheme will cover 3,000 acres land area of the factory’s land for plantation by the factory. While, out-growers will supply sugar cane from additional 5,000 to 7,000 acres within the catchment areas of up to six hours drive from the factory.

The Ministry again stated that, the initial arrangement to buy the sugar cane from farmers at GHC60.00 per ton was later increased to GHC80.00 to GHC90.00 per ton at the farm gate, to outwit the price offer by local alcoholic distillers. Following this new arrangement farmers are willing to sell to the factory their produces.

The factory was expected to be shut down sometime in late June and resume full operations in October – November, after the testing stage in June.

This clearly shows that, there a future plan to sustain the factory with raw material for production.
Apparent, information gathered indicates that, about 4,000 acres of sugar cane farm lands belonging to the resuscitated Komenda Sugar Factory has been encroached upon by private developers.

The development threatens the cultivation of sugar cane–the raw material needed for the viability of the newly-built Komenda Sugar Factory in the Central Region.

“Thirty years ago, government had 6,300 acres of land but that land has been encroached. It has now become 3000 acres now,” Mr. Nitin Wagh, President of SEFTECH, the project contractor revealed.

Given the limited land available for the cultivation of the crop, the factory will now need 4,000 acres of sugar cane plantation from out-growers within a 25 kilometer radius of the factory to augment what is produced by the company.

At full throttle, the plant is expected to produce 50 tons of sugar per day. That is about six times the weight of an elephant.

Experts estimate that for a plant that has the capacity to crash 1250 tons per day for 180 days, it requires 225,000 metric tons of sugar cane every other six months for processing.

About 7,000acres of land is needed to grow 225,000 metric tons, given that an acres produces about 30tons of the crop per acre.

The main crashing season is from November-April. From May-October is the maintenance period where they is no sugar cane for processing.

The newly-inaugurated US$36million Komenda Sugar Factory requires 225,000 metric tonnes of sugarcane every other six months to operate at optimal capacity, according the project contractor.

“For a plant with a capacity to crush 1,250 tonnes per day for 180 days (six months), it requires 225,000 metric tonnes of sugarcane. The main crushing season is from November-April. May-October is the maintenance period when there is no sugarcane for processing.

If you crush 1,250 tonnes of sugarcane, there is 10 percent recovery. This also depends on what quality of sugarcane you have. With the best quality, recovery can go as high as 15 or 16 percent of sugar. So if you crush 100 tonnes, you get about 15 or16 tonnes of white sugar,” said Mr. Wagh.

The factory was constructed with a loan facility of US$35million from the government of India-sponsored Exim Bank of India; Line of Credit with an interest of 1.75 percent; and a counterpart funding of US$1.26million from the government of Ghana (GoG).

Source; Adnan Adams Mohammed

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