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Minister seeks support to revamp Pwalugu Tomato Factory

By
Samuel Akapule, GNA

Pwalugu (U/E), Aug.
12, GNA – Mr Rockson Bukari, the Upper East Regional Minister, has appealed to
investors to partner with the Government to revive the defunct Pwalugu Tomato
Factory in the Region, also known as the Northern Star Tomato Factory.

The Minister made the
call when a television crew from the Association of Public Broadcasting
Corporations in Germany, led by their reporter, Ms Joana Jaschke, paid a visit
to the Factory to do a documentary following a feature article written by Mr
Samuel Akapule, a Senior Journalist of the Ghana News Agency, on the state of
the Factory.

Briefing the
journalists, Mr Bukari said apart from the 300 workers of the Factory who were
laid off, more than 1,250 tomato farmers from communities in the Region who
cultivated tomato to feed the factory were also out of job.

He said no investor
would regret to partner the Government to revamp the Factory since it would
improve revenue as the Vea and the Tono Irrigation Schemes and the vast
agricultural land in the Region, could serve as arenas for the farmers to
cultivate raw material to feed the factory.

“This Government is
very passionate about private partnership that will help bring
industrialisation and improve the lives of the people. We will, therefore, be
very grateful with any investor who will want to partner with us to help revive
this important national asset to create employment and wealth for the people,
especially the youth,” Mr Bukari said.

Touching on what led
to the closure of the factory, the Regional Minister said the problem was due
to lack of leadership, political commitment and financial constraints.

He noted that the
Factory, when put back on its feet, could produce to feed the country and
export to neigbouring countries including Togo, Burkina Faso and Mali to earn
some foreign exchange.

Mr Vincent Atarisaga,
the Technical Officer of the Factory, explained the production stages and said
all the machines were fully functional except the three vacuum pumps, which had
problems. 

He said the Factory
had the capacity to produce 500,000 metric tonnes of tomato paste per day and
that one of the major factors that collapsed it was the lack of machines for
canning the paste, thereby compelling it to send the product to an Italian
company in Accra to be canned.

Mr Joseph Beni, the
Regional Crop Officer, said a new variety of tomato suitable for cultivation
had been developed for farmers and that opening the Factory would support the
Government’s Planting for Food and Jobs Policy.

Some of the farmers
the GNA spoke to expressed disappointment at the state of the Factory and said
they would be most grateful if the Government could fast-track the process of
revamping it.

“We used to pay our
children’s school fees and cater for our family needs without much problem when
the Factory was in full operation but now most of us cannot do so, thereby
causing rural urban migration, particularly the youth, who used to get
employment from this Factory,” Mr Ibrahim Salifu, the Spokesperson for the
farmers, said.

Ms Jaschke pledged to
show the documentary on their television network and expressed optimism that it
would help attract investors from Germany to partner the Government to revive
the Factory.

GNA

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