Ayensu Starch Factory to transform rural economy with 5,000 jobs

Factory Revival
Factory Revival

The rejuvenated Ayensu Starch Company is currently undergoing a test run and is expected to commence full operations from January 2022.

The factory will produce 60 metric tonnes of food-grade tapioca starch at full operational capacity daily and it is expected to create, at least, 5,000 jobs.

Mr Evans Ayim, the Manager of the Company, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), said the resuscitation of the factory would help transform the rural economy as about GHC25 million would be spent annually to buy cassava.

“We are now buying a tonne of cassava at GHC350.00. If one supplies one acre worth of cassava, which is about 10 tonnes, then the supplier will be earning GHC3,500 revenue.

In the rural community, that is significant. If you can do that for 10 months, you are more than an income earner in many fields of work in the country,” he said.

He explained that the factory needed 7,200 acres of improved variety of cassava, which translated into 72,000 metric tonnes, to operate all year round.

In line with this, Mr Ayim said the company had rolled out an out-growers scheme, which was currently recruiting and empowering some 1,000 farmers from various districts and municipalities to feed the factory.

He said the purpose was to offer the farmers the opportunity to turn agriculture into a full-time job, adding that the response from the farmers had been encouraging so far.

The Ayensu Starch Company was commissioned around 2004 under the former President John Agyekum Kufuor’s “President’s Special Initiative’ (PSI) programme to produce food-grade tapioca starch at an initial capacity of 72 metric tonnes per day but it was shut down in 2006 for lack of raw material, among other reasons.

It resumed work in 2008 with many more challenges until 2016 when the government entered into a Public-Private Partnership and offloaded 70 per cent of shares to Tiberias–the current managers of the company.

Owing to technical and mechanical challenges which caused the company to run at a loss, the company had to shut down again to make way for total refurbishment in 2019 and had eventually been completed in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Ayim said challenges such as uninterrupted power supply, dysfunctional waste management system and inadequate water supply had all been resolved.

The other challenges, he, however, admitted was with transportation, inadequate logistics and poor roads, leading to the factory, which he indicated were being tackled.

“We have registered under the One District One Factory (1D1F) policy and we are lobbying the government to fix the roads. In fact, it has been given out for contract and so that is being done,” he stated.

Underscoring the importance of starch to the Ghanaian economy, the manager reiterated that the “invisible commodity” was a commercially viable venture worth $30 billion globally.

He said starch was used in many manufacturing industries such as textiles, paper, food and pharmaceuticals, adding that revamping the factory would cut importation and save Ghana some foreign exchange.

“If we can contribute from Africa and Ghana leads in that direction, I believe that we can easily tap into that market and turn it into, maybe, a one-billion-dollar industry. We are the pacesetters and we want to show that it is commercially viable,” he said.

In the meantime, Mr Ayim hinted that the company was focusing on only the domestic market until it was able to expand its operations and production to take advantage of the global economy, especially the African Continental Free Trade Area.

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