The West African Mills Company (WAMCO) has commenced operations and export of semi-processed cocoa products.
The company shut down operations in 2014, laying off more than 6,000 permanent and casual workers, as a result of its indebtedness to the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and 10 other cocoa processing companies, resulting in those creditor companies cutting the supply of cocoa beans to WAMCO.
However, the government has intervened and asked COCOBOD to resume supply to WAMCO, beginning with 500 tonnes of cocoa beans, to enable the company to operate.
In a reciprocal gesture, WAMCO has also withdrawn a law suit it instituted against the national cocoa aggregator for cutting supply. The case will now be settled out of court.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Sekondi, the Deputy Managing Director of WAMCO, Mr Frank M. Bednar, said the prime objective of the company was to bounce back to life to ensure that its liquor, expeller and hydraulic plants were up and running to ensure regular supply of pre-processed beans before main processing.
He said the liquor plant was working perfectly and that its full operations should be expected in early 2018.
“We have started honing the increasing demand from our customers who still have great respect for processed cocoa from Ghana,” he said.
Mr Bednar disclosed that the company had so far commenced the export of some of its semi-finished products, saying: “As we speak, the last two containers are about to be hauled to the port for shipment.”
As far back as the 1960s, Ghana set out to process its raw cocoa beans before export, but that objective has not fully taken shape.
In recent times, however, governments and the COCOBOD have tried to attract some investors into the country to process cocoa.
The WAMCO was established by private initiatives to process cocoa beans into high cocoa paste, cake, butter and other products.
However, its share of processed cocoa in the total cocoa export is minimal.
Mr Bednat said the company’s liquor plant could process between 12,000 and 15,000 tonnes a year and the expeller between 15,000 and 20,000 tonnes.
He indicated that its second operation, WAMCO 2, which housed a hydraulic plant, had the capacity of 25,000 tonnes a year.
That plant, he said, was being rehabilitated and was expected to be ready in about seven months to enable it to scale up operations.
Mr Bednar said when all the processing plants came on stream, a lot more hands would be engaged to address the unemployment challenges in the country.
Source: Graphic Online