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28.02.2006 Business & Finance

Pwalugu Tomato Factory to be reactivated


Bolgatanga, Feb. 28, GNA - The long-awaited reactivation of the Pwalugu Tomato Factory near Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region will soon materialise.

Through the initiative of the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI), a local company, Northern Star Tomato Company Limited (NSTC) has taken over the factory and will commence operation by October this year, in collaboration with Trusty Foods Company Limited, an Italian company based in Tema.

Mr Ben Peasah, Deputy Chief Commercial Officer in charge of Investments and Financial Services at the Ministry, disclosed this to the Ghana News Agency in an interview at Bolgatanga. He said machines and equipment worth about one million dollars (10 billion cedis) procured for work to commence were expected at Pwalugu by the end of March.

In the meantime, renovation of the buildings, restoration of telephone facilities, water and electricity as well as other preliminary works, have begun in earnest.

"With technical and logistic support from Trusty Foods Company Limited, NSTC will undertake the processing of raw tomato into paste at the Pwalugu plant, which will be transported to Trusty Foods factories in Tema for canning," he added.

Mr Peasah pointed out that Trusty Foods would, however, withdraw its experts when the management of NTSC was competent to operate on its own.

Mr Peasah who had earlier briefed heads of government departments, ministries and agencies on the reactivation of the factory in Bolgatanga, said he was in the Region to organise sensitisation meetings with tomato farmers, to encourage them to increase production to feed the factory.

He said about 4,500 hectares would be required to cultivate 89,000 tonnes of tomato for the factory to operate effectively. Mr Peasah urged tomato farmers within the Region to form co-operative groups to enable them to benefit from incentive packages and marketing of their produce.

He appealed to Municipal and District Assemblies to show interest in the company's operations, and endeavour to own at least 20 per cent shares in its operations.

Participants at the meeting including heads of government ministries, departments and agencies expressed delight in the reactivation of the factory, saying it would minimise unemployment in the Region. It would in addition, stem the incidence of migration by youth from the Region to the southern parts of the country. They were optimistic that the allocation of plots to prospective tomato farmers would be undertaken fairly in order not to marginalize small-scale local farmers.