13.04.2005 Business & Finance

Wamco Resumes Operations After 4-Month Break

By Ghanaian Chronicle
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Loses billions of cedis due to shortage of cocoa beans

WAMCO II, one of the three cocoa processing factories of West African Mills Company Limited (WAMCO) that uses hydraulic pressing method for the extraction of butter from cocoa, lost millions of dollars after it was closed down from December last year to last week, due to shortage of cocoa beans, The Business Chronicle has learnt.

The plant however resumed operations last Saturday, after receiving 500 and 2000 tonnes of cocoa beans on Thursday and Monday respectively, from Cocoa Board.

The Local Union Chairman, Mr. Mensa Gimpetey-Djan, has therefore appealed to the Ghana Cocoa Board (GCB) and the Produce Buying Company (PBC), as well as the government to make cocoa beans available to the plant at all times for it to run at full capacity, and forestall the recurrence of the programme.

On the company's export and market values, the union chairman said products are exported mainly to the European Union, America and Japan with a little portion onto the local market. Ghana however lost huge sums of foreign exchange for the past few months they were out of operations. Workers who have been working at the factory were temporarily deployed, thereby losing salaries for the period.

The West African Mill Company Limited (WAMCO) formally known as West African Mills Limited, is the oldest cocoa processing factory in the country, and was previously wholly owned by the GCB now processes 170 tonnes of cocoa per day or 56, 000 tonnes per annum.

The company is involved in a wide range of actives including the extraction of butter from cocoa beans, roasted cocoa beans milled into fine paste, and into cocoa cake.

In 1963, the Cocoa Marketing Board (CMB), now GCB, acquired 51% shareholdings in WAMCO on behalf of the Ghana Government. The factory later became a wholly owned subsidiary of GCB when Gill and Dufus handed over its 49% shares to the GCB in September 1982.

The company was later divested under the country's divesture and privatization programme in August 1992, with the Gustav F.W. Hamester\Schrorder of Germany purchasing 60%, leaving the rest to GCB.

In an interview with the Financial Controller of the company, Mr. Felix Quaye, he hinted the paper that the company had only one factory as of December 1993. WAMCO took over a second factory, the Cocoa Processing Company Limited (CPC), Takoradi, which was fully integrated into WAMCO under the same shareholding and management.

Mr. Quaye said the company was registered as a free zones enterprise on December 23, 1997, hence its name West African Mills Company Limited (FZE).

WAMCO is made up of three factories, which are expeller plant, cocoa liquor plant, and hydraulic press plant.

According to the financial Controller, the first two plants are in WAMCO 1 and the other is in WAMCO II.

WAMCO 1 consists of the Expeller and Cocoa Liquor plants. The Expeller Plant employs the expeller method for the extraction of butter from the beans. The crude butter extracted is purified and deodorized. Cocoa cake with shells, called "WAM B rand" is also another product obtained after the butter extraction.

At the Cocoa Liquor Plant, roast cocoa beans are winnowed and the nibs milled into a fine paste. The paste is sterilized, cooled by a tempering machine and blocked as Natural Cocoa Liquor Wam brand.

To improve on its quality control, WAMCO has built analytical and microbiological laboratories, staffed with highly trained personnel who continuously carry out analyses on raw materials.

The processing materials are passed through various sections of quality assurance to ensure that the products are of the highest quality and meet international standards.

The company through its hard work has won local and international awards such as golden award for technology and quality, the golden Europe award for 2004 quality and commercial prestige and the Top Quality Customer Satisfaction (TQCS), Golden Europe award for quality and commercial prestige, golden Africa award, new millennium award, and the 7th export achievement exporter of the year award.

As part of the company's several responsibilities, WAMCO generates direct and indirect employment, funds educational and health projects, and also encourages research into efficient production and processing of cocoa through annual awards.

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