Feature Article of Friday, 19 October 2012

Columnist: Dailypost

Re: Goats Take Over Pwalugu Tomatoes Factory

We read in your paper number 241/12 of Friday, 12th October, 2012 at page 2 and wish to react to the said publication as follows:It is INCORRECT to say that the factory has been totally abandoned and equipment left at the mercy of the weather.

The recent flooding in the Upper East Region as a result of the spillage of Bagre Dam in Burkina Faso affected the factory, but management acted properly to save the situation.It is an undeniable fact that the factory has been in operation since the 2009 tomato season, and this can be verified from farmers in the factory’s catchment area who have been beneficiaries of the operations of the factory from 2009 to date.(that was when we started) It is sad the Vice-Presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party ( NPP), Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia, who hails from Walewale, a town just about twenty-six kilometers away from the factory is very ignorant of the farming seasons with particular reference to tomato cultivation. The Pwalugu Tomato Factory now Northern Star Tomato Company Limited operates between the months of January and April of the year when, tomatoes which are highly perishable food item is in season. He should be aware that the farmers start preparations for planting their tomato crop around September and it is not possible to have access to tomatoes on the scale required for continuous production before December in any given year. It is unfortunate that the Vice Presidential Candidate seems to have very little knowledge of the farming season of the area he comes from. The factory has an installed capacity of 500 tonnes of raw tomatoes daily. Assuming the factory works for 365 days in the year, it will require not less than 182,500 tonnes to process.

The estimated annual production of tomatoes in the Upper East Region is 12,000 tonnes. This means the Factory operates below its operational capacity. The facilities at the Northern Star Tomato Company Ltd. can be used to prepare mango juice concentrate and therefore the suggestion by the Honourable Minister of Trade and Industry, Ms. Hanna Tetteh to farmers in the region to go into mangoes production is a move in the right direction. This will keep the factory working throughout the year and is intended to diversify the raw materials base of the factory. It is mischievous for anybody to visit a factory at a time when raw materials of the factory are out of season and falsely proclaimed to the whole world that the factory has been abandoned for several years. Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia allegedly visited the factory in early October, 2012 when raw materials had been out of season six months ago and farmers are getting ready to prepare their lands for cultivation of tomatoes. Is Dr. Bawumia aware that additional equipment are in the process of being installed?As for inserting a picture of goats and sheep feeding nearby to prove that indeed , the factory had been taken over by these animals is laughable and shows the high level of ignorance on the part of the author of the operating schedule of a factory which depends on a seasonal production of its raw material. If Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia is desperately seeking power to move dear Ghana forward, it should not be done on the altar of falsehood. We hope that you will give prominence to our rejoinder as you gave to the story necessitating this rejoinder.

Thank you. signed

Charles Gunu Production Coordinator Northern Star Tomato Factory