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Pwalugu Factory to Start Trial Runs By June

2006-04-25 21:13:33
This article has been read 843 times.

The Pwalugu Tomato Factory will commence trial runs by the end of June, barring any unforeseen circumstances. This follows government's agreement with three districts and communities in the Upper East Region to undertake the processing of raw tomato into paste in drums under a new private sector company, Northern Star Tomato Limited, for canning at a factory in Tema. Already, civil works are underway to get the factory in shape for the installation of new machinery, which had already arrived at the Tema Port, to enhance capacity.

The project, being executed under the District Industrialisation Programme, is estimated to cost about four million dollars. This came to light when Mr Alan Kyeremanten, the Minister of Trade and Industries, visited the defunct factory that has been on the divestiture list since 1989.

Mr Kyerematen told journalists that the government's assistance in finding an entrepreneur to revive operations of the factory was not a return to the old days of state owned enterprises.

"We are working to bring to life these factories not as state enterprises but as projects between districts and private sector operators to create employment and generate wealth," he said. The project is in line with government's District Industrialisation policy that aims to establish at least one factory in each district. The Minister explained that the government's role as a facilitator in getting private sector operator to renew operations stemmed from the fact that the basic infrastructure of the factory was intact, although the machines were quite obsolete.

Besides, the project would guarantee a ready market for tomato producers in over 10 districts in the region.

In addition, it will save tomatoes that otherwise would have gone bad because of lack of storage facilities.

Mr Kyeremanten said the project has the potential to transform the economic fortunes of the individual farmers, generate revenue and increase the welfare of their dependents.

"The programme has a high stake of generating employment for the youth in the various communities that will be affected by the projects. Through this the country can make a meaningful progress towards reduction in poverty levels," Mr Kyeremanten said.

The Minister said there was the need for the right type of machinery to enable the company to be competitive, hence the decision to install high capacity equipment in place of the old one.

The new machine has capacity to process 500 metric tonnes of tomatoes a day compared to the 100 metric tonnes of the old plant.

A spokesman for the construction company carrying out the rehabilitation work indicated that the civil works would be completed by May.

Meanwhile, the Trade and Industries Minister also undertook a similar tour to the Meat Factory at Zuarungu near Bolgatanga. Mr Kyerematen, who was impressed with the infrastructure, said plans would be made towards the restoration of the factory.

This, he said, would help boost cattle ranching in the region and serve as employment avenues for the people of the area. Mr John Dery, an accountant with the old factory who conducted the Minister round, explained that the machines, though in good condition, might not be economically viable to operate.

Before it ceased operations in 1992, the factory could process an average of 100 cattle a day.

The minister said there were plans to look at other State Owned Enterprises on the divestiture list that can be revived under the Ministry's District industrialisation Programme.


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