Ayensu Starch factory breaks down while tonnes of cassava go waste

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Several tonnes of cassava are going waste at the Ayensu Starch Factory at Bawjiase in the Awutu Senya District in the Central Region following the breakdown of the processing plant.

Heaps of fermented cassava on the factory site brought in by outgrowers could not be processed because of a faulty processing system.

The management of the factory said for the past three months there had been intermittent breakdowns of the processing plant, making production ineffective.

The Daily Graphic gathered that the anxiety among more than 1,000 out-growers was increasing, as they had not been paid for their produce, while some workers said they had not been paid for the past six months.

Briefing the Central Regional Minister, Mr Kwamena Duncan, during his working visit to the factory last Tuesday, Mr Evans Ayim, the manager at the factory, said since the inauguration of the factory, there had been no major overhaul of the plant.

He explained that although the operating system had been modified to ensure a simpler process of producing starch, there were still some challenges, causing it to break down intermittently.

Mr Ayim said the major concern was the unavailability of spare parts to replace parts when there was a breakdown.

Test run

He said after its re-inauguration and retrofitting this year, the factory began test runs in July.

“We were excited and ready to go. We had called farmers to bring in their cassava. We were excited. But just then there was another breakdown,” he said.

So far, he said, the factory (now owned by Tiberias Ghana Limited with 70 per cent shares and the government of Ghana with 30 per cent shares) was working to get back to operation.

Mr Ayim said so far it had produced more than 200 metric tonnes of starch, mostly for supply to Guinness Ghana Limited.

He said the factory still remained a viable one, with the potential to transform the lives of the rural farmers and that he was optimistic that given the needed support and attention, it would be profitable.

He said there was a huge market for starch in the breweries, pharmaceutical and food industries.

The factory was re-inaugurated last year to promote socio-economic advancement.

Minister

The Central Regional Minister said the collapse of the factory would affect the well-being of the hundreds of farmers whose livelihoods depended on it.

He said it was important for the management of the factory to ensure effective communication with stakeholders to ensure effective operations.

The Ayensu Starch factory was established in 2004 by the government to produce starch in commercial quantities but broke down in 2006 as a result of inadequate raw material supply and inadequate supply of spare parts.

It was divested last year, with the government holding 30 per cent of the shares.

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