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Techiman tomato factory to commence operation
Posted on: 28-Jun-2013         Source: thebftonline.com
The tomato processing plant at Techiman in the Brong Ahafo Region ‘Techiman Processing Complex (TEPCO)’ is to start full operation in September 2013.

This follows Government’s agreement with private investors to take control of the factory under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP).

TEPCO is expected to produce 40 tonnes of processed fresh tomato as well as water-melon and mango into puree a day -- a move which if successful would eliminate the yearly phenomenon of post-harvest losses that has crippled farmers in the BrongAhafo Region and beyond.

Farmers in tomato growing areas like Techimantia, Akomadan, Derma and Tuabodum have been battling with post-harvest losses, especially during bumper harvests, as a result of unavailability of ready market for the vegetable -- and therefore TEPCO is expected to remedy the situation.

The Company from now to August is recruiting the requisite manpower, repairing malfunctioning machines and also conducting test-runs on plant that was completely installed in 2007 for a smooth a take-off, Boffah Owusu Akyeaw, Chief Engineer of TEPCO disclosed to the B&FT in an interview.

The tomato processing plant, a brainchild of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Italian government that was officially inaugurated inDecember 2012, is aimed at reducing poverty, enhancing income generation for rural households, and reducing imports of processed tomato products as Ghana is the second-biggest importer of tomato paste and puree in the world after Germany.

“Currently, the Company is installing a garbage-feed bio-gas digester to replace the existing boiler -- which consumes about US$300,000 worth of diesel per annum -- as a way to reduce cost of production.

Management is also collaborating with other relevant bodies to mobilise out-grower farmers in groups and support them with inputs to grow the suitable variety of raw material needed for industrial production.

The type of tomato most farmers cultivate is not economically apposite for processing. “Under normal circumstances at most seven (7) tonnes of fresh tomato should yield one (1) tonne of fresh puree -- but locally produced tomato if processed takes 10 tonnes to yield one tonne because it contains too much water and seeds,” Mr. Owusu Akyeaw said.

The Company has also acquired a 25-hectare land at Akomadan in the Ashanti Region, developing it as the farming-field to produce raw materials to supplement the stock from out-grower farmers, he added; saying, “We cannot rely solely on out-grower farmers for raw materials”.