The Minister of Trade, Industry, Private Sector Development and the President's Special Initiatives (PSIs), Mr Alan Kyerematen, has inaugurated the rehabilitated Pwalugu Tomato Factory which has now been christened the Northern Star Tomato Factory.
The old Pwalugu factory was closed down in 1990 because of operational and financial difficulties and was subsequently listed for divestiture.
Inaugurating the factory, Mr Kyerematen said the selection of the factory for reactivation was under the ministry's district industrialisation programme.
That, he noted, was based on its strategic importance in terms of the utilisation of the local natural resource, the structure already in place and the inherent opportunity to bring local communities into mainstream national economic activity.
He said based on these, the ministry engaged an Italian private company, Trusty Foods Limited located in Tema, in negotiations to support the reactivation of the factory.
Mr Kyerematen said since the installation of the new equipment, management of the factory had successfully undertaken several trial runs and that the new plant had the capacity to process 500 metric tonnes of tomatoes, which was five times the capacity of the old processing facility.
He said he considered the partnership and collaboration with Trusty Foods as most appropriate and mutually rewarding.
According to him, the Russo Family, which owned Trusty Foods, was reputed to be the largest tomato producer in Italy, adding that as a market leader in the production of canned tomato paste, it exported about $35 million worth of the product annually to the ECOWAS sub-region and the European Union.
Mr Kyerematen revealed that under a sale and purchase agreement between the two companies, Northern Star Tomato Factory would sell its output to Trusty Foods for sale locally and for export.
He said as part of the partnership agreement with Trusty Foods, new seed varieties and agronomic extension services would be provided for the farmer-based organisations in the selected districts to enhance productivity and yield.
The Upper East Regional Minister, Mr Boniface Gambila, who chaired the function, advised the people in the region to get on board and support the management of the facility in running the factory to alleviate poverty in the region.
The managing director of the company, Mr Kwame Bonsu, appealed to the government to facilitate the extension of power to the factory, saying the factory was currently relying on a generator to run the plant.
Story by Benjamin Glover