In 2017 President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo declared the ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ Agenda with the vision to getting the country to depend more on her abilities and resources for the wellbeing of the populace than to depend on foreign donors.
The vision, among others, included a plan to industrialise the country, hinged on a campaign promise of creating a factory in every district, dubbed: the “One District, One Factory” (1D1F) initiative.
This flagship programme is geared towards creating jobs to alleviate poverty and create wealth for all.
Lo and behold, in August 2017, the President performed a sod-cutting ceremony for the construction of Ekumfi Fruits and Juices Factory in the Central Region. This pineapple processing factory is the mother of all the new factories under the IDIF initiative.
When the President Akufo-Addo launched the initiative he said the policy was not a political gimmick but one that would change the fortunes of the economy.
He said the country could not grow if it continued to export its produce in its raw state without adding value and entreated Ghanaians, particularly financial organisations, to support government to make the project successful. That will stop the spectre of young and able bodied men and women leaving the rural areas for urban areas in search of non-existent jobs.
The factory, a wholly-owned Ghanaian company, has one of the most modern, automated agro-processing plants in West Africa. It was the first factory to be eyed under the 1D1F initiative but its operations materialised last year, when it was commissioned on Friday, August 21, 2020, by President Akufo-Addo.
“Nearly three years down the line, we have confounded the doubting Thomases, and I am very happy to be back here in Ekumfi and, indeed, very proud to commission the Ekumfi Fruit and Juices Factory. As we can all see, this project has been well-planned and well-thought-through, with the raw materials needed for the successful implementation of this project already present, and an out-grower scheme in place,” the President said.
Sited on a 50-acre land with a 100-metre length and a width of 50 meters, the factory processes 10 tonnes of fruits per hour into 100 per cent natural juices in three great variants; pineapple, pine-ginger, and pine-tropic under the brand name Ekumfi Pure Juice.
The Ekumfi Juice factory requires four acres of pineapple fruits to be harvested for processing every hour. The juice produced here has no additives, thereby, putting its products ahead of its competitors.
The Factory is currently the largest pineapple juice processing factory in West Africa, placing Ghana on the international radar in terms of competition.
The Factory has a total investment capital of fifteen million dollars, ($15,000,000) of which ten million dollars ($10,000,000) is a facility from Ghana Exim Bank.
The Chief Operations Officer of the Factory, Mr Frederick Kobbyna Acquaah, said it was very keen on procuring its raw materials, that is planting the pineapples, which takes 12 to 16 months to mature, and then process it into juice.
Justifying the decision behind the product label, Mr Acquaah said it was the most convenient and market-friendly name the company could generate.
“We are not looking at Ghana as our only market, we are considering the international market, so we have the Ekumfi Pure Juice,” he explained.
The factory has a 60-acre pineapple farmland cultivated by 20 fishermen as alternative livelihood, Mr Acquaah said, and estimated that at full capacity, the factory is expected to run three shifts; each shift will have about 150 persons directly working at every point in time.
This excludes the farmhands and other casual workers who may be brought in to provide assistance or services. The impact of the factory is already being felt across the town as well as the community.
“The youth among them insist that the farming business gives them an opportunity to occupy themselves and avoid engaging in vices that may derail their growth and future prospects,” Mr Acquaah said.
He indicated that the factory hopes to acquire more lands, about 15,000 acres, for pineapple plantation and engage more people.
“Per our projection, we are doing 500 acres per annum but we are saying that we don’t just need 500 acres, we need triple of that because with time we will have to let the current land rejuvenate while we move to another land to plant,” he said.
To boost the raw material base of the Factory, the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) also provided five million pineapple suckers for cultivation in February, 2018.
Mr Eric Amoako Twum, Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GEPA, said out-growers from Agona, Gomoa, Ekumfi and other adjoining districts that had subscribed to pineapple plantations, would supply their produce to feed the factory.
Traditional Leaders Support
In response to the factory’s plea for support, Okyeame Adams Sanei, Linguist of Ekumfi Abor, said the various clans in the area had agreed to give the land free of charge to complement government’s efforts to bring development to the area and the country as a whole.
“So today we the chiefs of Ekumfi Abor are giving our land free of charge to government in order for our farmers to get job to do,” Okyeame Sanei said.
The multiple effect of the Ekumfi Fruits and Juices Factory is resonating in all facets of the lives of people in the Central Region, as other investors have expressed interest in setting up factories to use its by-products as their raw materials.
From an initial plan of three uses of the by-product, more proposals have been received to increase it to more than five, Mr Acquaah said, adding that they include compost/manure and animal feed.
Effects of COVID-19
Touching on the effects of the COVID-19 on the gains of the Factory, he said: “It has slowed down projections in terms of even our farming, our production and our marketing,” adding that before the lockdown in many parts of the world, market standardisation had been ongoing to export to Germany, the United Kingdom and other parts of the world.
Mr Acquaah said production had been cut down by one-third of targets and had taken a toll on export timelines.
Support from Civil Society Organisations
The Alliance for Development and Industrialisation (ADI) has expressed it unflinching support and felicitations on the timely completion of the project and prospect.
Mr Godwin Arthur, the Convener, said: “We at the ADI have attached ourselves to the commitment of the chiefs and people to this project. The ADI has continued to monitor all these and can attest to the fact that the Ekumfi Project will be one of the largest sources of revenue for this country”.
He said if the Government could replicate such projects in 10 regions, the country would accrue a total revenue of GH¢5.3 billion a year.
This was corroborated by President Akufo-Addo, when he said: “The Ekumfi Fruits and Juices Factory is yet another example of Government’s determination to promote the industrial transformation of our country. Government will continue to partner the private sector to establish similar modern factories, and which would be globally competitive, and take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area, that will begin trading on 1st January, next year.”
He urged all the farmers and workers to be disciplined, and eschew any negative tendencies that may undermine the success of this great project.
The Ekumfi Traditional Council gave President Akufo-Addo the title, “Nana Oyeadze Nokwarfo I” for his hard work and vision, unflinching support, direction and passion to industrialise Ghana through the 1D1F Programme, of which Ekumfi Fruits and Juices Ltd is proudly, the first.
Management of the factory is also grateful to Odeefo Akyin VIII, Paramount Chief of Ekumfi Traditional Area, under whose auspices the commissioning of the factory was held, and all the paramount chiefs who graced the occasion.
The contribution of the Factory to the economic growth of the nation cannot be overstated. Among other things, it is helping to transform the industrial landscape of the country and building the capacities of local enterprises to produce high quality products and services for both domestic and foreign markets.
It is also creating employment, particularly for the youth, in rural and peri-urban communities and improving the income levels and standards of living, as well as reducing rural-urban migration.