An MP in whose constituency the Komenda Sugar Factory has been cited says GHC60 per tonne offer from government to sugarcane farmers is too low to sustain their interest.
Dr. Stephen Nana Ato Arthur explained that the government’s offer means a KIA truck full of sugarcane factory will go for GHC180, an amount he said poses a danger to the supply of raw material for the facility.
The Komenda sugar factory was recently commissioned by President Mahama to cut down 200million of sugar imports and create 7,000 jobs.
President John Mahama said government would pay for the transportation of the sugarcane by outgrowers in addition to the buying price.
At least 60% of the raw material will be supplied by the farmers while 40% will be supplied through the factory’s own farm.
Critics are not buying into the government’s optimism when the Communications Minister Omane Boamah maintained that the factory has “a very, very bright future”.
According to KEEA MP, government failed to do adequate economic feasibility of the $36.5m project.
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”, Dr. Ato Arthur told Joy News. He said the transportation cost of a KIA truck load is more than ?100 but government is offering to pay ?180 for the three tonnes of sugarcane it carries.
He said even the market price of one sugar cane is ?5, a tonne for ?60 will not encourage any farmer to sell to government.
Minority spokesperson on Agriculture Dr. Owusu Afriyie has also raised questions about why government would set up a factory when it has no guarantees on raw material supply.
He said considerable effort is needed to feed the factory’s 1,200 metric tonnes capacity.
“1,200metric tonnes a day, translated into nearly 140,000 tonnes of sugar cane [in a year] and that’s a lot of sugar cane. Who is going to produce that when you leave that to chance?”
He also believes that poor planning will be the bane of the factory. The President described the revamping as a resurrection of the dream of Ghana’s first president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
Dr Kwame Nkrumah built the factory in 1966. It ceased operations 1981 and later liquidated in 1998 under NDC government for about 5,100 cedis.
But the Komenda Sugar Factory was however shut down, barely 48 hours after President Mahama commissioned it. The latest shut down has been explained by government as part of a maintenance schedule to last six months.
It is another move which critics say confirms their suspicion that the factory is a vote-buying gimmick as November 2016 elections approach.
A policy expert Kofi Bentil has criticised government saying the Komenda sugar factory will produce more propaganda than sugar.