By, Gifty Arthur
Government has revamped the Ayensu Starch Company Limited (ASCo) to serve both local and international markets.
It was launched last Friday at Bawjiase in the Awutu Senya District of the Central Region, barely a month after the president, revamped the Komenda Sugar Factory in that same region.
The Company, built by the erstwhile John Kufuor government in 2004, under the then Presidential Special Initiative (PSI), collapsed after farmers in the area, declined to supply the factory with adequate raw material to meet production requirement, because of delay in paying them for their cassava.
Other reasons cited then, were frequent power outages, lack of funding for spare parts replacement, working capital, among others.
The arrangement to bring the factory back to life was a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with government, owning 30 percent shares, while Tiberias Ghana Limited, has the remaining 70 percent.
The revamped company, which is seeking to be the leading producers of industrial starch for Africa and beyond, has the capacity to produce 22, 000 metric tonnes of grade starch per annum.
It first line of customer, will be Guinness Ghana Breweries Limited (GGBL), which has adopted the starch for the manufacturing of its Ruut Beer. ASCo, presently has staff strength of 60, while it has engaged 1,000 farmers to start production with.
Management says, it would engage more farmers and factory hands as time goes on.
Speaking at the launch, Foreign Affairs Minister, Hannah Serwaah Tetteh, urged management to increase the number of farmers to 5, 000, so that, a good number of the people in the catchment area, can feel part of the company.
Revamping the company at a time, when it has become difficult to get cassava for domestic use, Ms. Tetteh, who is the Member of Parliament (MP) for the area, and also the ex-Trades and Industry Minister, said although the company already has it farm to feed it, it is looking forward to buy a good amount of cassava from farmers.
“Ayensu Starch already has a nucleus farm. I established it when I was a Minister of Trades and Industry, so I know it already has a nucleus farm. What we need is additional nucleus farm so that even though we expect to purchase a certain amount from the markets, there is also the opportunity to have a guaranteed amount of production from the factory’s own resources”, she explained.
To ensure that farmers get what is due them, Ms. Tetteh, who is the acting Trades and Industry Minister, challenged management to keep faith with the farmers, so that the company remains viable for both farmers and company.
“It is important that you keep faith with the farmers, because if you don’t, what is going to happen is that all of this drive that we have just re-launched today, will not be particularly successful”, said Ms. Tetteh.
She pleaded with management to involve workers of the company in all they do, so that in the event that there are challenges and they are abreast with the setbacks; they would understand and cooperate with them, adding “in making any business successful, the workers are important part of the process as the management”.
She advised that “for the workers who would be the employees of this company and who would add on to the staff strength of this company, I hope that you would indeed treat them as your partners. Engage them and explain to them whatever challenges the company is going through so that they can understand and work with you to make this business a success”.
According to her, “It’s important that they should feel very much a part of this establishment, not outside of this establishment”.
As MP for Awutu-Senya West, Ms Tetteh, said the district was committed to support the company in whichever way and urge management to call on them anytime the need arises.
“If there is anything that we can do as a district to support you in this initiative, we would be more than happy to do so. You must call on us at any time”, she assured.
She pleaded with chiefs and traditional rulers to support the company by agreeing to give lands to cassava farmers.
Omanhene of Awutu Traditional Area, Agyeman Otabil, who noted the resurrection of the factory was long overdue, urged the youth to take the opportunity and go into cassava farming, and entreated the management, workers and farmers to avoid “arrogance, apathy and intolerance” to make the company stay in business.
He pledged his commitment to management adding, “I support it fully”.
The re-launch of the company, was received with a lot of excitement, as people from far and near thronged the venue to celebrate in the good news.
Present were Deputy Central Regional Minister, Maame Pokua Sawyerr, chiefs, MPs, district chief executives from Awutu, Ajumako and Gomea areas, farmers and many others.