Govt moves into potato business

Story: Peace AWUKU

Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto,  has pledged government’s support for Maphlix Trust Farms Limited, the nation’s largest exporter of potatoes.

The Minister made the pledge when he visited the Company’s 2,000-hectare estate at Tadzewu in the Ketu North Municipality during a working tour of the Volta Region.

Managing Director of the Company, Mr. Felix Kamassah, appealed to the government to help develop its operational structures, which he said would bear on the nation’s crop production and export sector.

The project, which began in 2013, runs on power plants and uses water from boreholes, and seeks to be connected to the various utility networks including; the Trans ECOWAS Highway, which cuts through the area.

He said the construction of a 250-ton capacity pack house, and a potato-processing factory was ready to take off once connected to power and had over 700 acres under orange-fleshed potato cultivation, farmed mostly by out growers, and that more tractors would be required to help expand their output and meet production demands.

An overflowed dam on the farm had recently flooded about 20 acres of vegetables, and submerged a bridge.

The Minister, meeting heads of the Ministry’s regional directorate following the visit, said, “What we saw yesterday is really what I will describe as progress in Agriculture, this company which cannot have enough of orange fresh potatoes for export. They are asking for thousands and thousands of tones, but they can only do a limited amount. It really shows that Ghana has the potential.

“They are asking for facilities to help them to do the extension to have an outgrower programme, they are limited in machinery and I have promised them that before the end of the year, they can have all the machinery that they need, and I mean it,” he stated.

Dr. Afriyie Akoto added “so these are islands of hope and development, and these are the kinds of private sector initiatives that government should be supporting to grow, and we are determined that these companies especially those with the links to smallholders, are the ones that we need to target public resources for them to expand rapidly to generate the jobs, give us foreign exchange and benefits from them”.

The Minster and his team, made up of heads of the various departments under the Ministry, earlier stopped by a Dutch plant propagation Company at Sogakope in the South Tongu District.

He said the Ministry would seek a “formal agreement”, and connect the Company to institutions, crop development, and greenhouse projects to supply first class seedlings for Government’s mission.

He took note of the iridescent spread of agro industries in the Volta Region, and commended its weight within the nation’s food basket.“It is impressive to see that these are new companies that are emerging on the Horizon and we will work with them as a government to realize the vision of Ghana beyond aid,” he assured

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