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26.01.2005 Business & Finance

Starch Company signs first marketing agreement

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Accra, Jan. 26, GNA - The Ayensu Starch Company (ASCo) on Wednesday signed its first marketing agreement with Monfort International, a French company based in Cote D'Ivoire to market its product in the Central and Western parts of Francophone Africa.

The French company, which identified the cassava starch at the industrial fair organised last year by the Ghana Trade Fair Company, expressed interest in marketing the product to which a memorandum of understanding was signed in 2004.

According to Mr Osei Owusu Agyeman, Acting Managing Director of ASCo, the agreement fell in line with the company's image to build a viable business and to ensure that the producers enjoyed the toil of their labour.

He said the agreement also signalled the company's readiness to be part of the big players in the industry and commended financiers, farmers and advisors who contributed to make the feat possible. Cassava starch has been identified as a product that could be used as raw material in numerous industrial activities such as in the production of soap, tiled cement, paint and glucose. Mr Mr Owusu Agyeman said ASCo intended to concentrate on improving the quality of starch and to develop its local market.

The regional market beginning with the Francophone Central and Western Africa was counting on the non-payment of duties to explore avenues to generate revenue.

Mr Owusu Agyeman said ASCo currently has a market in Denmark and was hoping to penetrate the European market as an inroad to get to other markets.

The current production level of ASCo is 2,000 metric tons per year but Mr Owusu Agyeman believes that if the partnership with Monfort was successful, production level could shoot up to 8,000 metric tons per year to yield a projected revenue of between three to four million dollars a year.

The company hopes to achieve this by mobilising the farmers to produce the cassava as disciplined entities, depend on the Centre for Scientific Research and the Ghana Atomic Energy to identify higher yielding cassava.

It will also rely on the government to facilitate the business by continuing to provide basic infrastructure such as communications facilities.

ASCo has targeted the Nigerian market for its next project. Mr Emmanuel Tanoe, Ambassador of Cote D'Ivoire in Ghana, said the sub region produced a lot of cassava and yet it never identified its potential as an income earner.

He said his country used cassava as a staple food by mostly squeezing and disposing off the starch.

Mr Tanoe said Ghana had made his people to discover "the gold of the nation" and to realise that it could not only improve their economy but also create jobs and reduce poverty.

The Ambassador noted that starch had considerable economic potential for the two countries and urged the partners to take advantage of the opportunity.

He also observed that Ghana and Cote D'Ivoire could further explore trade opportunities saying that the two countries could between them produce about 60 per cent of the world's cocoa.

Mr Kwamena Bartels, Minister of Private Sector Development and President's Special Initiatives (PSIs) designate said the agreement was a giant step from the original initiative.

He said the basis for the PSIs was to diversify Ghana's economy instead of her over reliance on the three main export commodities being cocoa, gold and timber.

Mr Bartels said over reliance on the three commodities had exposed the nation's economy to a lot of world market shocks and therefore the PSIs served as an opportunity to broaden the base of export commodities and to cushion the sources of revenue when such shocks occurred. He expressed the hope that the marketing company would explore more markets to enable ASCo establish more factories in other towns to create jobs and reduce poverty.

Mr Alan Kyeramaten, Minister designate of Trade, Industry and PSI, urged the public to disabuse its mind that ASCo was a government project.

He said the company belonged to private owners made up of farmers, the company itself and financiers like Agriculture Development Bank, the National Investment Bank, the Ghana Commercial Bank and Export Development and Investment Fund.

However, government was committed to ensuring the initiative was successful and would therefore continue to render its support.

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