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General News of Monday, 26 November 2001

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President Kufuor calls for Land Reforms to attract Investors

President John Agyekum Kufuor has called for reforms in land acquisition to make it attractive for investors.

He said chiefs must assist the government in its land reforms programme so as to reduce the high incidence of land litigation to create a congenial atmosphere for investment.

President Kufuor made the call when he commissioned a 400,000 dollar Shea Nuts processing Factory for the Juaben Oil Mills at Juaben in the Ejisu/Juaben district of Ashanti region on Saturday.

The factory employs about 165 people directly and indirectly supported and sustained about 4500 shea nut pickers, carriers and transporters. The factory is a joint venture between Juaben Oil Mills Limited and OLAM, a leading multi-national in the business of food ingredients, from Singapore.

President Kufuor said chiefs could, in addition to the review of the land tenure system, have long periods of leasehold so that investors could be encouraged to secure more lands for investment.

"It could be done through equity or partnership or as shareholders with the investors in order that the lands could be kept for long periods", he added. He called for an efficient management and cordial labour relations so as to maintain the equipment and machines at the factory for them to realise its their capacity.

President Kufuor commended the Juabenhene for the initiative to diversify the operations of the Oil Mills and appealed to other chiefs to emulate the Juabenhene for establishing such joint ventures to create jobs and employment for their people.

He said his call on chiefs stemmed from the fact that a new crop of chiefs were emerging and that they had realised that the days when chiefs were recognised by their exploits in wars were gone and that the new type of chief emerging was the one who had the welfare of his people at heart.

President Kufuor said he accepted the invitation to commission the project because the project was in line with the NPP's policy of Private Sector Development, Foreign Investment and Joint Ventures.

Nana Otuo Sireboe 11, Juabenhene, who is the Executive Chairman of the company, said the Oil Mills employed about 215 workers, 40 of whom are women and that it had been engaged in the commercial production of palm oil and palm kernel oil since 1984.

Their major customers had been the industrial consumers of palm oil, like Unilever, PZ and Apino Soap Factory and was at the same time servicing the domestic market including almost all second cycle institutions in Ashanti.

He said in 1997, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), in conjunction with the Ghana Investment Promotions Centre, (GIPC), after a national survey, adjudged the mills the most successful and innovative small-scale enterprise in Ghana.

Nana Seriboe said the factory had the capacity to process 50 tones of shea nuts per day and that they were lucky to have received the support and co-operation of many individuals and organisations in the course of planning and executing the project.

He expressed his appreciation to ECOBANK, for not only granting the company a facility but following up with sound financial and management advice, which he noted, led to their making substantial savings on cost.

Nana Siriboe also expressed his sincere thanks to Professor Djokoto of the Department of Agricultural Engineering of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Techonology (KNUST), for designing and building the structure housing the equipment from local materials and supervising the installation of the plant.

Mr. Sridhar Krishanan, International Director of OLAM said the company dealt in cocoa, coffee, cashew, shea nuts, rice and sugar and that their interests were spread over five continents and 30 countries and that they directly employed 5,000 people and indirectly over 20,000 people.

He said since 1994, the company, which had spread rapidly throughout Ghana, had participated in the purchase of cocoa, palm oil and shea nuts and was the first private company to be licensed to buy cocoa and received the gold award for excellence last year.

Mr. Krishnan said the opening of the factory therefore, fulfilled their objective of adding value to their produce and that their partnership with Juaben Oil Mills was the first step towards adding value to shea nuts and therefore, a harbinger of more things to come.

Mr. Sampson Kwaku Boafo, Ashanti Regional Minister announced that early next week, the people of Boankra, whose lands would be affected by the construction of the Inland Port and the Ghana Shippers Council would hold their final meeting to thrash out any problems associated with the payment of compensation for the project to take off.

He warned the Boankra people that if, after the final meeting should anybody litigate over the acquisition of the land, he would remove the project from the town and send it to a place where the people would be accommodating.