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Business News of Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Source: Economic Tribune

$32m to Import Cocoa Bags

Cocoa remains Ghana’s largest export commodity and the highest contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It is estimated that for the past two years, the country has exported over two million metric tons of the commodity.

Packaging (bagging) of cocoa is one area that the government can develop in order to provide extra jobs for players in the cocoa industry but the country is currently importing its cocoa sacs (bags) at an estimated cost of $1 per sac.

A ton of cocoa is equivalent to 16 bags. What this means is that, over the past two years, Ghana had spent $32 million to import cocoa sacs if not more.

The Progressive People’s Party (PPP) believes that cocoa could be one of the major areas that can generate jobs for the masses and pledged that when given the mandate to rule, it will ensure that Kenaf, a raw material used for the manufacturing of the cocoa sacs is grown in Ghana and also establish factory to manufacture it.

“The Progressive People’s Party (PPP) has identified some sectors in the economy that can create employment for the youth in the country. The agricultural sector, which contributes significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is one area that PPP government will concentrate on when given the mandate,” Samuel Ampah, a Representative of PPP, has stated at a round-table discussion organized by CITIFM for political parties in Accra recently.

Apart from the cocoa sector, Mr Ampah said his party will be relentless in providing the needed support to the poultry industry, using low interest loans, technical assistance and tax incentives to enable poultry farmers produce at full capacity and provide jobs to the country’s unemployed citizens.

The poultry industry currently employs a total of 600,000 people, but PPP says if the monthly importation of a broiler which is about 150,000 – 200,000 metric tons is curbed, an average of 600 more jobs can be created.

To the do this, Mr Ampah said: “PPP government will discourage excessive imports of chicken by increasing the tax element on import to protect the local market. Nigeria has successfully done this and they are better off for it.”

“We know critics will start the mantra of WTO, we are not ignorant of this, but we must all know that the USA and all the other European countries who are also signatories to the WTO agreements protect their local industries and we must do same,” he charged.

He further noted that the vertinary industry would be one of the top priorities of the PPP administration if given the nod. The party intends to initiate a graduate training policy where unemployed graduates will be given the opportunity to retrain in areas where there is shortage of manpower such as veterinary to strike a good balance between human resource shortage on one hand and unemployment on another hand.

The PPP thinks constructing good roads that link farms to market centers, and providing a ready market for farmers would help open up regions for investments and employ more people.

“One way to provide ready market is to ensure that all basic schools on the school feeding program as well as Senior High Schools patronize strictly made in Ghana commodities for cooking. Ministries, Departments and Agencies will also be instructed to consume strictly made in Ghana beverages/foods for refreshments of all their programs,” Mr Ampah stated.

He added: “The Bolgatanga meat factory and tomato factory are one of those to be revamped to provide jobs for the people. The PPP administration will ensure that each region is specialised in the production of at least one product in commercial quantities to provide employment at the regional level and curb the trend of rural urban migration.”

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