PRESIDENT JOHN Agyekum Kufuor has inaugurated an $8.3 million nuts company at Techiman in the Brong Ahafo region.
Ghana Nuts Limited (GNL), established in 2001, processes soya bean, cashew, cowpeas, sheanuts and sesame into oil and other related products for both the local and international market.
GNL also operates under the Ghana Free Zones Board and is a registered member of the Ghana Export Council.
Speaking at a ceremony prior to the inauguration of the new state of the art factory at the company's premises, President Kufuor asked Ghanaians to encourage entrepreneurs and individuals who set up their own genuine businesses.
He said the support should come from patronizing products and services of such companies.
Government on its part, he said, will continue to provide the enabling environment and the necessary infrastructure for the private sector to flourish.
According to him, government has put wavers in place for companies which would be established in rural communities.
President Kufuor observed that the establishment of the GNL is a manifestation of the efforts of his government to support and grow the private sector under the Golden Age of Business concept.
“I want to assure potential investors that Government's vision of the Golden Age of Business, and Private Sector-led economic growth policies are not mere slogans.”
He said both programmes are aimed at inducing investors to invest in rural areas and bring a balance between the rural areas and the major towns, thereby leading to wealth creation in the regions as well as reducing rural urban drift.
He stated that the Trans-West Africa Gas Pipeline Project, the Bui Hydro Electric Dam, and the oil discovery among others, were clear indications that his government had succeeded in establishing a sound foundation for the economy's take off.
He regretted the fact that most exporters, especially those in agricultural business, exported commodities in their raw state.
Mr. Kufuor however commended the management of GNL for the bold step taken to add value to products before export.
He disclosed that Techiman was not left out in the rejuvenation of the railway system, and that a rail line would be constructed through Techiman to the Northern parts of the country.
In response to a request made by the Omanhene of Techiman Traditional area, Oseadeeyo Akumfi Ameyaw IV, who chaired the function, President Kufuor said he would ensure that the Techiman-Kumasi road, which was currently under reconstruction, was completed on schedule whilst the five-km stretch of road from the premises of the Ghana Nuts Limited to Kenten, would be reconstructed into a dual carriage road.
The Chief Executive Officer of GNL, Obed Asante, disclosed that his company processes 18,000 metric tons of sheanuts and over 20,000 metric tons of soya beans for the export market per annum whilst more than 5,000 metric tons of groundnuts were exported to Europe and the far East every year.
He was proud that his company has been able to make great strides into the edible oil market in the country with the introduction of “good quality AKOMA Soya Bean Oil”. Over 70% of our soya bean meal, which is a vital poultry feed input material, goes into export,” he disclosed.
The CEO said the development has led to a decrease in the importation of soya bean meal into the country.
During the 2006/2007 season, GNL purchased 8,000 metric tons of sheanuts, 8,850 metric tons of soya beans, 4,100 metric tons of peanuts, and 30 metric tons of voacanga Africana seeds mainly from the Northern, Brong-Ahafo, Upper East and West Regions of the country as well as neighbouring countries like Burkina Faso and Benin.
With a staff of 600 permanent employees and 400 casuals, the company has contributed significantly to reduction in unemployment, social vices and poverty in the community.
The CEO announced that in line with its social responsibility, GNL has set aside a colossal sum in its 2008 budget for the rehabilitation of the Techiman Holy Family Hospital's Children's ward.
Mr. Asante was grateful to government for creating the enabling environment for his company to operate in the country with its international branch in Germany.
The Regional Minister, Ignatius Baffour Awuah, regretted the fact that the company had to import a quantity of soya beans from Niger for processing instead of buying from local farmers. He therefore encouraged local farmers to go into large scale production of soya beans and peanuts since there was now a ready market for them.
The Omanhene cautioned workers against vices such as pilfering and sabotage.
From Rocklyn Antonio, Eric Bawa and Emelia Ennin, Techiman