Former President John Mahama has said his government had plans of establishing a sugar cane farm around the Komenda sugar factory to provide the raw materials for production but that part of the project has been ignored by the Akufo-Addo government since taking office in 2017.
He told Cape93.3FM in an interview in the Central Region during his Thank You tour on Friday, 15 October 2021 that his vision for setting up the factory was to cut down on the almost $300 million spent annually to import sugar into Ghana.
“Phase I of the project was to build the factory and with phase II, the government of India gave us another $24 million for sugar cultivation and the out-growers”, Mr Mahama explained to Ohene Kwame David.
“When this government came, they said the sugar factory wasn’t their priority and, so, they didn’t apply for the $24 million and, so, they left it and the factory is just sitting there”, he bemoaned.
According to the 2020 flag bearer of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), the second phase of the project was designed to provide the raw material for the factory to make it self-sustaining.
“Do you think I’m a fool to build a factory and not make provisions for raw materials? I’m not that foolish. I did economics in the sixth form”, Mr Mahama pointed out.
“So, I knew what the vision was: get the factory first and, so, when we start producing, we’ll have a processing plant”.
“So, it was one of our priority projects”, he added.
He said: “There’s about 3,000 acres of land at Komenda, so, we planned doing a nucleus farm to feed the factory with raw materials and use the remaining balance of the $24 million to buy sugar from the out-growers in the area.”
“We’ll give them the planting materials because our sugar cane variety is very thin compared to the very think hybrid variety which has a lot of sugar in it”, he noted.
“So, the factory would buy the sugar cane from the out-growers”, he said.
“This government forgot about the second part”, he said, emphasising that “the Komenda Sugar Factory project has two parts: the plant and the sugar cane growing but they forgot about the second part, that is why the factory is sitting there idle and now they want to privatise it”.
“But even if you privatise it, you still need the support of the farmers to grow the sugar cane”.
“If we come back into government, by the grace of God, and they have not sold the factory yet, it’s a factory that can work to produce a very good percentage of Ghana’s sugar requirement and provide the youth in the area with jobs”, Mr Mahama said.