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Business News of Monday, 11 February 2013

Source: B&FT

$60m edible-oil plant to reduce imports

An Indian company, Avnash Industries, has inaugurated a US$60m edible-oil plant in Tema, saying it intends to reduce dependence on imports of the product.
The plant, which will produce 500 metric tonnes of edible oil per day, will boost capacity to 1,500 metric tonnes per day in less than two years, with a storage capacity of 100,000 metric tonnes.
“It is our core belief that to be self-sufficient in the true sense, Ghana must fully develop its agricultural base; we cannot afford to import rice and food products,” Chairman of Avnash Group of Companies Bhagwan K. Mirchandani said.
The plant employs about 500 employees who run on a shift basis, but indirectly creates over 2,000 jobs through the sourcing of raw materials from local farms and the establishment of oil palm plantations.
Managing Director of Avnash Edible Oil Plant Dr. Shashi Kataria said the company is here to help farmers realise their dream of feeding the nation.
“True to our corporate philosophy of maximising use of local resources, each of our agric-based activities is supported by an out-grower scheme activated by our nuclear farms.”
Food and Agriculture Minister Clement Kofi Humado said the President’s vision on agriculture is predicated on the private sector as the engine of growth.
He pledged to work hand-in-hand with Avnash, because the company’s objective to develop agriculture in the country is in line with that of his ministry’s. “I am particularly delighted that the project is not just for oil production, but aims at helping out-growers as well.”
Finance Minister Seth Tekper, who stood in for the President, said despite the availability of abundant natural resources in the country, the unavailability of desired incentives for farmers is curtailing growth.
“It is this void that is being addressed by the edible-oil processing plant; its capacity of 500 tonnes per day opens up new opportunities to thousands of people - cultivators, transporters, traders and, of course, the employees of this plant.”
He said entrepreneurs who believe in adding value to their areas of activity are welcome to partner government in making Ghana self-sufficient in staple foods.
Currently, Avnash has a 450 metric tonnes per-day rice milling plant in Tamale that will be opened in April. The company has also leased 30 acres of land at Buipe to set up a 300 metric tonnes per-day groundnut-oil plant.
Avnash has additionally acquired and upgraded three defunct plants: Boswell Oil Plant, Blue Mont Shea Butter Plant,