Pambros Salt Production to suffer due to encroachment
Months after the president has added salt to his special initiatives, Panbros Salt Industry Limited (PSIL), the largest producer of salt in West Africa would not be able to meet its target of 250,000 tonnes annually because residents have encroached upon about 500 hectares of its land site.
Currently PSIL is embarking on an expansion and quality improvement programme to increase its present production capacity of about 80,000 metric tonnes a year to between 180,000 and 200,000 metric tonnes to enable it export to the Nigerian and Cote d'Ivoire markets.
Apart from encroaching on the 1,130 hectares land by building houses for settlement, the residents have also been polluting the crystallising pans meant for the salt production with all sort of items, as well as steal some of the salt. Mines Minister, Kwadwo Adjei-Darko was at the industrial site at Mendskrom near the Weija Barrier to discuss ways of increasing production and improving quality for Ghana to take the advantage of the wide market in the sub-region.
Presently, it is only Ghana and Senegal that produce salt in the sub-region with a total production of about 350,000 metric tonnes per year, a figure far below the expected demand of 1.5 million metric tonnes per year. Commenting on the situation. Mr. Adjei-Darko wonders why an area earmarked for development can be sold or leased to people to build there. “This kind of in-discipline must be checked, but unfortunately the very people that must check these things, sometimes are involved." On the need to increase production, he said Ghana needed not base its estimate on the current demand alone but rather it should take into consideration the fast growing population if it wanted to dominate the region in the near future.
"Besides, it is equally important that we add value to the salt and think of converting it into other chemical products to enable us meet international competitors like Brazil and Australia who have dominated the West African market," he said. Advising salt mining companies, Mr. Adjei-Darko said, "Our capacity is low, sometimes let us involve partnership, which would be of interest to the nation." He said if we developed the salt industry through the private sector, it could become a major exporting commodity that would bring in more foreign exchange for Ghana, which may even superseded what Nigeria was earning in oil today.
A proposal has been sent to the Ministry of Finance soliciting about three billion cedis of the HIPC fund to assist small-scale salt producers in the country, as part of the President's Special Initiative to promote its production. Ghana stands a greater advantage in the industry, owing to the fact that currently over one million metric tons of edible salt are imported into the West African region mainly from Brazil, Australia and Europe.PSIL sought to invest in a salt refinery to enable it to enter the Nigerian and Ivorian markets and add value to raw salt, which would improve earnings significantly.