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25.07.2003 General News

Nobody promised Ayensu farmers C500,000 per ton - Coordinator

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Accra, July 25, GNA - Mr Osei Owusu-Agyeman, National Coordinator of the Cassava Starch Project, on Friday expressed shock at the threat by some farmers of the Ayensu Starch Company to go on strike over the price of their cassava.

He refuted the claim by some of the farmers that the company promised to pay 500,000 cedis per ton of cassava and said: "Nobody promised the farmers any 500,000 cedis per ton and challenged the farmers to come out with the names of those who made the promise. "The 150,000 cedis per ton was arrived at after a series of meeting with the National Executive Committee of the farmers, who initially advocated for 250,000 cedis per ton but later accepted the 150,000 cedis on condition that government would help them to increase productivity and pay them promptly," he said.

Mr Owusu-Agyeman, who was speaking to the Ghana News Agency in an interview, was reacting reports in a section of the media that the cassava farmers at the Ayensu Starch Factory had threatened to go on strike to demand 500,000 cedis per ton as was promised them. Mr Owusu-Agyeman said apparently those demanding the higher price and threatening to go on strike were those who were not following laid down instructions and were, therefore, not meeting the expected target of production.

"Such farmers are those currently producing far below the expected capacity of about eight tons per .405 hectare," he said. The National Coordinator said it would be impossible and ridiculous for the Company to pay 500,000 cedis per ton now.

Mr Owusu-Agyeman said government knowing that the project was a new thing, had done all that it could to ensure that all the stakeholders benefited, especially the farmers. Hence it had provided the farmers with cassava sticks, loans and other incentives to ensure that the initiative succeeded.

"It's a new thing, so we don't have to blame anyone and shouldn't run away from it because of a small problem. We have to sit up and find out how best we can solve it," he said. The Ayensu Cassava Factory is one of the President's Special Initiatives instituted to create employment and to boost the Ghanaian Economy.

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