More than 2,800 sugarcane out growers anticipated to supply sugarcane to the Komenda Sugar Factory have threatened to sell their sugarcane to palm wine distillers if the factory management failed to pay them GH₵300.00 per tonne.
According to the outgrowers, officials of the company leading the pricing negotiation with farmers were bent on imposing GH₵100.00 per tonne, a price they described as woefully inadequate as per the high cost of growing the crop.
The farmers described the situation as disincentive to hard work and efforts to expand their farms thereby creating more jobs to improve livelihoods.
The Komenda Sugar Factory was built at a cost of $35 million from an Indian EXIM Bank facility and was inaugurated by then-President John Mahama in May 2016, but stopped operations not long after.
The factory is expected to employ 7,300 people along the value chain, boosting employment prospects in the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem Municipality.
Protesting the price, Mr Okatakyi Ackon, the Director of Communications for the out growers, told the Ghana News Agency, that several buyers across the country had offered higher prices hence, they would not hesitate to sell to them.
“We have met management twice on pricing for our sugarcane, but all meetings ended inconclusively. We will not accept 100.00 cedis per tonne for our months of pain and toil.”
“It is either they accept our reduced price of 300.00 per tonne or we will sell to the local gin distillers and others who are ready to pay more,” Mr Ackon said.
He gave the assurance that the outgrowers growers were ready to support the operationalization of the factory and noted that “if the funds sought by the management earlier were available to farmers on time, several tonnes of sugarcane would have been available for the factory to commence commercial production.”
“There were routine visits by the officials with strong hope of getting bulk money to work with, but now, the story is different now and we don’t want to go back to our old ways but work to sustain the company and our livelihoods,” he said.
However, reacting to the out growers concerns, an official who pleaded anonymity, pledged to further engage the farmers for an amicable settlement for mutual gain.
“We appreciate the concerns of the farmers and we are in talks with them to come to an agreeable price to sustain production,” the source said.
Also, the board of the company was finalizing negotiations with traditional authorities to secure about 20,000 acres of land for plantation development at the Sekyere Obuasi and Sekyere Hemang areas in the Central Region.
The source said four acres of nursery land had been cultivated to support sugarcane growing in the catchment area in addition to an advanced plan to expand the land to 500 acres after the commencement of operations.
By Isaac Arkoh, GNA