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As the Ekumfi Fruits and Juices Ltd’s fruit processing factory is on schedule for completion by the close of the year to begin operations in the early part of next year the company is preparing to switch gears to the next phase of cultivation that would see the expansion of its raw material base up to the projected 4,000 acres, which would be needed to feed the factory at full capacity.
The factory with the capacity to process 10 tonnes of fruits per hour with a very strong raw material supply base that would create sustainable jobs for about 6000 of our youth in the Ekumfi district and beyond, is funded by the EXIM BANK Ghana Ltd.
The company per its 5 year strategy, is cultivating 4,000 acres of pineapples in many communities in the Ekumfi district as well as in the neighbouring districts that would in all, produce 80 million fruits per annum for the processing line. For year 1, the projected acreage was 600 acres, or 12,000,000 fruits. With the interest that the project has generated in the Ekumfi communities, this set target for year 1 has been exceeded, as more of the communities and more of the citizenry join by the day.
The project has currently established 13 shared-grower site in the following communities: Ekumfi Nanaben (2 sites), Ekumfi Narkwa, Ekumfi Abor (2 sites), Ekumfi Eyisam, Ekumfi Otuam, Ekumfi Egyaakwa, Ekumfi Asaman, Ekumfi Gyankoma, all with an average of 50 acres each. Share-growers engaged in these sites have all together cultivated about 400 acres of pineapples and keep planting every day in order to meet the demand from the factory.
Greenfields and Foods Ghana ltd has also cultivated about 250 acres of Pineapples on their two farm sites, one at Gomoa Assin and the other at Gomoa Oguaakrom.
In order to meet full scale fruit production requirements, work is underway for the expansion of the plantation in order to achieve the needed acreage of about 4,000 that would be needed to feed the factory. This has opened up an opportunity for farmers and prospective farmers alike to sign up to be part of the project.
The company is currently in discussion with the NABCO secretariat and the YEA to have beneficiaries join the Ekumfi Share-Grower scheme to cultivate fruits for the factory to complement the full capacity fruit requirement of the factory. Vacancies exist for thousands of prospective beneficiaries.
Beneficiaries would be housed in the Ekumfi enclave.
The project has developed the EKUMFI SHARE-GROWER MODEL that has changed the status of the farmers, originally Out-growers to SHARE-GROWERS to reflect the relationship that allows them to benefit from access to land, land preparation, supply of inputs, training and a monthly stipend in addition to a revenue share at harvest and sale of the fruits to the processing facility.
It would interest you to know that the headmaster and management of the J.E.A Mills SHS located in Ekumfi Otuam have approached the company to develop a 20 acre pineapple farm for the school, which is presently being prepared. This equally opens up an avenue and opportunity for Senior High Schools across the country to join the share-grower scheme and an introduction of agri-business in SHSs.
With the extensive works done on the planting sites across the district and beyond, the project managers say that for the President to tour all the sites to inspect the works done, it would be advisable for him to use an helicopter.
Meanwhile, the construction of a 100 x 50 metre factory building with a 50 x 30 metre warehouse and storage facility on a 200 x 100 metre working area that is located in a 50 acre pineapple farmland is currently ongoing. The construction is on schedule and would meet the completion timelines which is projected to be by close of the year, according to the contractors working on the project.
The project has received a number of requests from individuals both living in the country and living outside the country, as well as investments companies to be enrolled on the Ekumfi model. This has led to the development of The EKUMFI INVESTMENTS MODEL that allows for a high yielding investment in the area of pineapple and other fruit production with the off-taker being the Ekumfi Fruits and Juices ltd. The product would be launched in December, 2018.
Again, the project plans to establish in Ekumfi, a Pineapple Estate, in line with the achievement of the larger EKUMFI DREAM that would see a major migration of our youth to live the EKUMFI DREAM which would provide access to jobs, health and recreational facilities, banks, sporting facilities and other social facilities. Private sector players are in the process of putting up affordable housing in the Ekumfi enclave to take advantage of this estimated drive.