The Wenchi Traditional Council in the Bono Region has appealed to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to revive the Wenchi Tomato Factory (Tomacan) and the Wenchi Animal Husbandry before the end of his tenure of office.
In addition, the Council has also appealed to the government to provide resources and logistics for the Wenchi Farming Institute to boost its operation.
The Chief of Koase, Nana Owusu Ansah Sasraku Besseah II, made the appeal when the Bono Regional Minister, Justina Owusu-Banahene, paid a courtesy call on the Council as part of her working visit to the Wenchi Municipality.
He expressed the hope that the revival of the factory and resourcing the institute would help create jobs and improve the Wenchi Municipal Assembly’s revenue mobilisation drive, and strengthen the operations of the Assembly.
The Wenchi Tomato Processing Factory is noted for the processing and packaging of vegetables, particularly tomatoes, garden-eggs, okra and other fruits. The factory used to be an economic backbone of Wenchi and its adjoining communities in the 1960s.
The factory was said to have directly employed over 1,000 people at its peak, while a lot more benefited indirectly from its operation through the out-grower scheme.
However, the factory was shut down in 1987 as a result of lack of the right quantity of raw materials for its operation.
In 2003, the re-activated Tomato Factory began a trial production, and initially processed 50 tonnes of tomatoes a day.
The then Production Manager, Mr. Godwin Anang, told the then Deputy Minister of Information, Mr. Stephen Asamoah-Boateng, who on a tour of the region, that the three processing stages of the raw tomatoes protected production from unwarranted elements.
Mr. Anang added at the time that Afrique Link, German Development Cooperation (GTZ), Unilever Ghana Limited, and Wenchi District Assembly were to run the administration and technical aspects of the rehabilitation of the factory.
Ghanaians were assured that when the factory assumed full production, the nation was going to achieve significant economic growth, as the processed tomatoes were to be exported.
Unfortunately, the collaborations between the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, GIZ (German Development Cooperation), Unilever Ghana Limited, Wenchi District Assembly and other development partners failed to maintain the running of the factory, as the farmers sold the produce for higher gains on the open market.
At the time, the factory had 50 staff and 100 casual labourers.
The then Wenchi District Chief Executive, Mr. Joe Danquah, told the press at the factory site that raw tomatoes to feed the factory for the trial production were supplied by tomato farmers at Beposo, Awisa and Nchiraa, all in the district.
The factory was again shut down in 2007.
In 2013, Ghanaians were again given the hope that the tomatoes factory, which had been shut down in 2007, was to be revived as a sweet corn processing business within the next two years. The company conducted an adaptation test on corn and evaluated the possibility of canning cowpeas at the factory, pending a smooth take-off in 2015.
The then Managing Director of the defunct tomato processor, Kwabena Adu-Gyamfi, disclosed that in order for the company to have outright control over the supply of raw materials for production, it was to grow its own corn to feed the factory, and the excess sold on the open market. The revival of the factory was expected to cost GH¢10.5 million at the time.
Wenchi is noted for the production of tomatoes as production dominates farming activities in the area. Tomato traders come from far and near, especially from Kumasi and Accra, to buy the produce. During bumper harvests, the price of tomatoes go down and a great part of tomatoes is left on the farms to rot. This necessitated the establishment of the Tomatoes factory about two kilometres away on the Wenchi-Ofuman road to produce canned tomatoes.
The factory was one of the more than 300 established under the Ghana Industrial Holding Corporation (GIHOC) in the 1960s to facilitate the country’s industrialisation.
The factory was initially shut down for some years after the overthrow of the First Republic on February 24, 1966. It was later given to a private company known as Afriquid Company Limited, a tomato and maize processing company.