Ghana’s President has commissioned a $16-million tomato processing factory at Domfete in the Berekum West District in the Bono Region.
The Weddi Africa Tomato Processing Factory, constructed under the government’s flagship programme, One-district, One-factory (1D1F), is a wholly-owned Ghanaian company.
It has the capacity to process 40,000 tonnes of fresh tomatoes a year into tomato concentrate and tomato mix, which translates into 720 crates of fresh tomatoes per shift per day.
The factory also has a 500-tonne cold room to hold fresh tomatoes and established a nucleus 2,400-acre tomato farm, with a tomato out-grower farmers association made up of 2,000 registered and trained farmers from the Tano North District in the Ahafo Region and Berekum in the Bono Region.
The farmers are being supported with inputs and technical services from relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to ensure the sustainability of the factory.
President Akufo-Addo, who was assisted by the Omanhene of the Berekum Traditional Area, Daasebre Dr Amankona Diawuo, to cut the tape to commission the factory yesterday, did not make any remarks.
However, when he inspected the project in September last year, he gave an assurance that his government was committed to supporting private sector operators, such as Weddi Africa Limited, to position themselves to become globally competitive.
He said that would provide an advantage for market opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), whose secretariat is in Accra.
The President commended the promoters of Weddi Africa for establishing such a modern facility at Domfete, in support of the government’s industrial transformation agenda, and appealed to the chiefs and residents to give their maximum co-operation to the company to ensure its success.
The Group Chairman of Weddi Africa, Nana Yaw Boahene, said during the installation of machines, the company employed 28 permanent technical staff, 20 non-technical staff and over 40 casual labourers.
The company currently employed 158 people and was expected to increase the number to 350, with gradual expansion within six months of operation, he said.
The General Manager of the company, Mr Benjamin Tackie, expressed gratitude to President Akufo-Addo, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ministry of Trade and Industry for their vision and support towards industrialisation through the 1D1F programme.
He also thanked the funding partners for investing in the company’s dream.
The Bono Region and its surrounding areas are known for large-scale tomato cultivation.
However, during glut periods, farmers have to leave their produce to rot in the fields due to the lack of a ready market and storage facilities, resulting in significant post-harvest losses.
The Weddi Africa Tomato Processing Factory is, therefore, strategically sited and positioned to significantly contribute to a reduction in post-harvest losses.
Also attached to the factory is a community radio station designed to host multiple farmer education programmes and community outreaches.
The project was funded with support from the Ghana Exim Bank and the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB).
The company’s beautifully packaged tomato mix products that come in sachets and plastic containers, christened: ‘Sweet Mama Tomato Mix’, are currently on the market.