The increasing demand for the Ghanaian traditional dry gin, popularly called akpeteshie, has resulted in an acute shortage of the local drink in certain parts of the Region.
The situation, which has greeted certain areas such as Koforidua, Suhum and their environs, was as a result of the indiscriminate felling of palm trees, the original source of raw material for akpeteshie production.
According to some consumers and producers interviewed by the Eastern File in the region, the situation if not checked immediately, would be a bitter pill to swallow by members in the industry, since many were those who depend on the production as a major source of income and occupation.
In order to remain in business, some distillers have resulted to the use of sugar as an alternative raw material, to produce the cherished local gin, however most consumers are not aware of this change in the industry.
Even though the difference in the taste of palm wine with sugar in the old age liquor could be detected as a result of its taste, consumers still patronize it.
The drink, which could boast of names like Ogoglo, Agbaa, Aluku and Onetouch, continues to enjoy massive patronage, as well as maintain its first place as the oldest alcoholic drink in the country, irrespective of the introduction of the likes of Pusher and Opeimu among others.
Akpeteshie is produce from fermented palm wine, and considered to be a friend of the poor, since it is less expensive and affordable, and could now be considered the first class liquor by chiefs and some prominent persons in the country, because of its taste the and absence of additives.
The change in raw material for the production of Akpeteshie is very common in the region, especially Gyato, a community of about 600 people in the Suhum-Kroboa-Coaltar district.
Speaking to the Eastern File, the Assembly Member for the area, Charles Goddey, who is also a producer of the good old drink, said producers of the liquor had resulted to sugar because there was a sharp drop in the supply of raw materials in recent times.
He explained that the industry would face a stiff challenge, if the government failed to support the producers, who are mainly rural forks, since sugar is expensive.
To this, he appealed to the government to support them (producers) with soft loans, that could help them to increase their production capacity.
Frank Yooman, a consumer of the product, said he prefered the traditional gin to the other imported ones, because of its good quality.
Another source of worry, which posed health hazard discovered by the Eastern File as at the time of filing this report, was that some distillers in order to produce hard liquor were using nails in the production.