Akuapem Gold Avocado Cultivation and Processing Limited is nursing 1.5 million avocado seedlings for its nucleus and out-growers’ farms to process fruit for oil and also export the raw fruit.
The nursing is being done on the company’s two-acre nursery at Nkronso in the Abuakwa South Municipality in the Eastern Region, which is said to be the largest in West Africa.
The avocado fruit would serve as raw material to feed the company’s GH¢95 million factory, scheduled to start operation by November this year.
Registered under the government’s ‘One District-One Factory (1D1F)’ programme, the factory has the capacity to produce 110 metric tonnes of avocado oil and package 300-400 metric tonnes of avocado fruit per day for export.
Inspecting both the nursery and factory on Friday, Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen, said the company was a best case scenario of the government’s plan to assist industries to add value to the country’s popular crops to make them cash crops.
He noted that currently avocado oil was one of the highly-priced commodities worldwide due to its growing demand, adding that Ghana stood to benefit from exporting such a product.
“This is strategic for us, especially when the African Continental Free Trade Agreement opens up new markets for us to export such products. We increase our foreign exchange earnings by adding value to the resources and raw materials we have in the country,” the minister explained.
The establishment of factories in rural communities, he said, was to decentralise industries and create employment for rural settlers.
As a 1D1F entity, the company, Mr Kyerematen said, would be given the necessary support, including tax waivers, to enable it to operate efficiently and competitively.
Director of Operations of Akuapem Gold, George Klint, said the company had already received financial assistance amounting to GH¢40 million from the Ghana EXIM Bank and was discussing with other financial institutions, including ADB, to raise more capital.
He noted that the company was cultivating 700 acres of avocado plantation at Begoro in the Fanteakwa District and that the plantation would be expanded by May next year.
The company, he said, has more than 28,000 acres of land bank and was targeting an avocado plantation of about 25,000 acres in the next five years.
When operational, the company would employ about 400 workers on the factory floor, which was 80 per cent complete and on the farms and hoping to create more jobs through the out-grower scheme, he added.
Albert Wilson, Board Chairman of the company, said soaring global demand for avocado products due to the fruit’s health benefits placed the company in a unique position to enhance Ghana’s export earnings.
The company, he added, would work with the Ministry of Trade and Industry to address challenges that could derail the commencement of operations.
Pix Avocado 1-3/samba/05-10
Caption: Mr Kyerematen inspecting the nursery farm during a tour of the company