Business News of 2014-04-23

Gov’t launches District Industrialisation drive

Under a new Presidential Initiative dubbed: “District Presidential Industrialisation Initiative,” the government, through existing agencies, is supporting rural entrepreneurs to build their capacity to increase output for a ready market.

For a start, some rural enterprises have been identified as producing toothpicks, which is strangely imported. It will also add value to wood products and increase palm oil production.

For the smooth implementation of the programme, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, has paid a working visit to some rural enterprises in the Asante Akim District in the Ashanti Region to ascertain at first hand some of the targeted rural enterprises.

At a bamboo service centre at Obogu, where bamboo is used as an alternative to wood, the minister inspected a GH¢23,000 machinery being installed in a completed building. On standby were 50 former illegal chainsaw operators who had been trained to operate the machines to turn bamboo into other products.

Mr Iddrisu, in his interaction, urged the district assembly and other organisations involved to ensure that the project was completed in time. He assured them of accountable funding from the government to enable them to expand and also export some of their produce in future.

Excited (on seeing the minister), the women who were processing palm fruits into palm oil, burst into song. Mr Iddrisu braced himself for the odds and interacted with the women who were working in thick billows of smoke.

Mr Iddrisu noted that such women who were working hard needed to be supported to modernise their business with machinery and equipment to lessen their burden, reduce risk and increase their incomes.

Another port of call was Dovton Wood Processing, where a former illegal chainsaw operator had been supported by the Rural Enterprise Programme (REP) to set up a wood processing plant to fabricate doors and some ceiling joinery panels. Enthused about the quality of work, the minister suggested that such businesses must be given the needed support and advice to be able to break into international markets such as the West African, European and American markets.

The minister announced that government had secured $76.52 million from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to support the work of the Rural Enterprise Programme which was meant to focus, among other things, on poverty reduction, skills improvement and promotion of the use of appropriate technologies.

It is also meant to improve access to capital for the rural entrepreneurs and build capacity in agricultural commodity processing. The minister said all efforts would be made to achieve the goal of REP by improving the livelihoods and incomes of rural poor micro and small entrepreneurs.