Business News of 2014-05-12

Multi-million-cedi grains processing center lying idle

A multi-million-cedi grains processing facility, established under the Private-Public Partnership Agreement between the Millennium Development Authority (MIDA), and a private investor, to provide drying, shelling and storage of grains, including maize facilities for farmers in the Upper Manya Krobo, Fanteakwa and Lower Manya Krobo Districts, is lying idle at Asesewa.

The Agro-processing facility which was completed in 2012 has a sheller, drier and storage facility for over 1,000 bags of maize and other cereals, but it is not being patronized by the farmers.

The facility also has a fumigator for treatment of the grains against germs and weevil infestation during the processing.

This came to light during a GNA’s Media Auditing and Tracking of Development Project in the Upper Manya Krobo District, being sponsored by Star-Ghana, met with some heads of department in the District at Asesewa.

Information available indicates that a private investor offered land and acquired some of the equipment for the facility as a condition for MIDA to construct the agro-processing center, which has now been handed over to the investor to operate.

To motivate the farmers to use the facility, before handing over to the private investor, MIDA organized a series of educational and sensitization workshops for over 20 farmer-based organizations (FBOs) involving over 1,000 farmers in the target districts on the benefits of the facility .

After handing over the facility, the new management ploughed the maize farms of registered members of the various FBOs, hoping that the beneficiaries would make use of the facility after harvesting, and store their maize and wait for good market prices.

Currently, the cost of the storage of a bag of maize for a month is GhC1, while the cost of shelling and drying ranges from GhC1 to GhC10 a bag, depending on the moisture of the maize.

However, farmers in the catchment areas are small-scale farmers who have relied on the traditional methods of using their families, or hiring labour on daily basis, to do the shelling, drying and picking of foreign materials, and then storing in their homes, even though that practice has not been the best.

Some farmers also claimed that their farms are in the hinterlands and transportation of their crops to the facility at Asesewa is expensive.

The Upper Manya Krobo District Assembly and the District Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, were not formerly engaged in the project, and so they have limited information on the whole project.