From Michael Boateng
Newmont Ghana Gold Limited (NGGL), in collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), has commissioned a US$694,897 Asutifi Processing and Services Centre (APSC) to add value to the production of some of agricultural produce within the Asutifi North and South districts of the Brong-Ahafo Region.
The initial produce, earmarked for processing, are chilli pepper and ginger, with plans to include maize and soybeans in subsequent years. Speaking at the commissioning, Mr. Joep Coenen, General Manager, Newmont Ahafo Mine, noted that agriculture is the mainstay of the region and the economy of the districts, with farmers, mainly smallholders, still depending on rudimentary methods of production.
Mr. Joep Coenen continued that after their hard work in harvesting their produce, they lack storage and inadequate agro-processing facilities to help them get value for their work done, therefore, the joint initiative by Newmont and GIZ was to add value to the production of a number of agriculture produce. He said it would reduce post-harvest losses, boost marketability of produce, and improve the earnings of farmers within the Asutifi North and South districts, adding that value addition to crops produced by the farmers will also go a long way to diversify the local economy.
The General Manager of Newmont Ahafo Mine mentioned that about 80 farmer based organisations (FBO), made up of at least 1,000 farmers, would benefit from the processing of farm inputs from the APSC, out of the number, 70% of the FBO are women and youth. According to Mr. Joep Coenen, the APSC is expected to produce at least 65 tonnes of chilli pepper, and 80 tonnes of ginger annually, generating a turnover of GH¢500,000 per annum by the third year of operations.
He added that the processing equipment, alongside other accessories, will serve as a multi-purpose hammer milling plant (15 HP) that can process a whole range of dried produce in the near future. Communities within the Asutifi North and South Districts that will provide produce for the processing centre are Kenyasi No. 1 and 2, Ntotoroso, Gyedu, Wamahinso, Hwidiem, Nkaseim and Nkrankrom.
The General Manager reiterated that the APSC project would reduce post-harvest losses in the targeted crops, which currently stands between 15% and 26% in the Asutifi area. The Regional Director of the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Cyril Quist, noted that the commissioning of the APSC demonstrates Newmont’s commitment to improving the welfare of citizens in its area of operations.
He expressed the hope that the market opportunities created for farmers would attract the youth into agriculture, so that they would abandon the dangerous act of galamsey (illegal mining), while urging the farmers to take full ownership of the center and ensure its sustenance.