Ghana Nuts Limited (GNL), an agro-processing company at Techiman in the Brong Ahafo Region, has established a subsidiary automated plant in Tema to further enhance its export trading activities.
The 3,000metric tonne facility, which is due for commissioning, has been engineered to refine soya-bean and shea crude for exporting to cosmetics companies in countries like Germany, France, the Netherlands and Cote d’Ivoire.
In an interview with B&FT, Obed Asante — Managing Director-GNL — said the development will raise the level of the wholly-owned Ghanaian company to a centre of excellence for the oils and fats industry on the global market; number-one being shea-butter and its specialty fat products for confectionary and cosmetics.
GNL currently has processing capacity of 200 metric tonnes/day for its soya plant and 140mt/day for shea nuts, but its capacity utilisation is about 60% for soya and 85% for shea nuts. According the MD, insufficient supply of raw materials is the cause of not maximising its production capacity.
He said the company mostly has to supplement local production of shea nuts and soya-beans with imports from Burkina Faso, Brazil and Uruguay. He explained that soya-beans yield low produce in the country, thus disincentiving farmers’ will to cultivate more in the country. In Ghana, an acre of land produces an average of 700kilogrammes while in other major growing countries production is about 3,000-3,500kg/acre.
Lack of improved seeds, machinery and non-adaptation to good farming practices have been identified as some key elements affecting local production. In an effort to help hone soya cultivation in Ghana to ensure reliable supply for the company, Mr. Asante revealed that GNL is to sponsor about 1,000 agricultural graduates from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and Polytechnics for three-year training courses in the trade.
He indicated that the company is in discussion with Traditional Authorities and land owners for leasing community lands to the graduates for commercial farming of soya-beans and maize when they complete the training course. The trained graduate farmers will be supported with the necessary machinery and other inputs to succeed, he added.
“The initiative will be a win-win situation for the communities, graduates and company as well. The company hopes to produce sufficient soya-beans for processing at half the current cost. High yields will also enable proper payment of rent to the land owners and guaranteed economic well-being for the farmers,” he said.
He continued that GNL has also started out-grower schemes where farmers are assisted with improved seeds, tractors, agro-chemicals and best agronomic teachings; it is further exploring cultivation of about 5,000mt on its own. Currently, the company buys about 45,000mt of soya-beans every year from local aggregators such as Savanna Marketing, which comprises farmer-based organisations.