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15.10.2004 Business & Finance

Cotton industry given a boost

By GNA

Accra, Oct. 15, GNA - Major Courage Quashigah (rtd) observed on Friday that the business opportunities being provided by the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) were the driving force behind the President's Special Initiative (PSI) on Garments.

The Minister, who was answering a question in Parliament, said the PSI on Garments sought to unearth potentials in the cotton industry. Mr Edward Salia, NDC-Jirapa, questioned Major Quarshigah, about the state of cotton production in the country.

He was particular about how the crop was faring with reference to the PSI and AGOA initiative, as the 2004 cotton crop season approaches. The Minister said the Ghana Cotton Company, the biggest cotton company, fell into serious financial problems and the Government through the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) decided to convert the debt equity of the Company by buying majority shares from shareholders. "The Government has also decided to provide the cotton companies some relief by allowing them to use the debt which otherwise would have been due for repayment... for operational activities."

Major Quashigah said, additionally, a United States based organization, DJ Miller and Associates Limited, had proposed to purchase the 358,627,000 shares from ADB.

"This is expected to reduce further the debt burden on the Ghana Cotton Company.

" The Company is expected to invest 40 million dollars in the Ghana Cotton Company Limited."

In a related development, Major Quarshigah, said the Ministry of Food and Agriculture had signed a memorandum of understanding with the US Department of Agriculture, for the proposed development of a strategic business plan that would cover the development of agriculture in the Afram Plains, including the Kumawuman Industrial Farms Complex (KIFCOM).

Mr Yaw Baah, NPP- Kumawu, was enquiring about the plans of the Ministry, to revive the defunct KIFCOM.

The Minster said a soil characterization programme, which the Soil Research Institute was carrying out covered KIFCOM and this would involve the entire Afram Plains to determine the suitability of the agriculture enterprise for the area.

"The Ministry...is also undertaking an agriculture land-use planning programme of the area.

This would enable the Ministry to determine a cost-effective agricultural enterprise for adoption by prospective investors or the private sector.

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