Mahama courts investments to agro-processing sector
President John Dramani Mahama has requested investors to push more investments into the manufacturing sector -- specifically the agro-processing sub-sector -- to support government's export-based economy agenda.
This, he said, will significantly reduce the millions of dollars that the country spends on importation of goods that can be produced locally.
Inaugurating a new processing factory for Conserveria Africana Ghana Limited -- producer of Gino and Pomo tomato brands -- in Kpone, he said the private sector has a critical role to play in transforming the dominant economic sector.
"Government alone cannot raise the needed capital to grow the manufacturing sector, and for that matter private sector participation is key.
“I believe investments from the private sector, such as this new factory -- will help to boost the attainment of our agenda for transforming the Ghanaian economy into an export-led one.
“This will also reduce the amount of foreign exchange that we spend each year on items that we have comparative advantage to produce locally," he said.
President Mahama said the country has strong comparative advantage in a number of items; including rice, tomato, sugar as well as burgeoning poultry and aqua-culture sectors that investors can channel their investments into.
Ghana spent about US$1.5billion on importing six major food items including rice, sugar, fish, poultry, vegetable oil and tomato into the country.
But Mahama said the country has made remarkable improvements in cutting down on imports, as local production of the items are on the increase.
"We are investing in both the poultry and aqua-culture sectors in order to increase production… With fish, the investment we have made has seen an increase in aquaculture, from 5,000 tonnes to 30,000 tonnes, and our intention is to increase that to a 100,000 tonnes by the year 2020.
"Local rice production capacity has reached 60 percent; all these will help to reduce the dependence on imports," he said.
Managing Director of Conserveria Africana Ghana, Rajib Chattopadhyay, said the huge investment is a testimony of management's confidence in the local economy.
He said the company has a vision to extend its efforts to develop a sustainable raw material base in the country through backward integration.
"This will enable Ghana to not only meet its annual demand in excess of 70,000mt of tomato paste, save more than 100 million US$ in foreign exchange, but also give its farmers a sustainable means of livelihood and increase the employment opportunities across a broad range of primary and support industries in the region," he said.