Graphic Online

Graphic Online 

Chinese company signals interest in coconut processing

BY: Severious Kale-Dery
Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto (left) having discussions with Madam Zhu (right). With them are Mr Emmanuel Asante Krobea (2nd left), the Technical Advisor to the minister, and Mr Edward Boateng (middle), the Ambassador of Ghana to China
Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto (left) having discussions with Madam Zhu (right). With them are Mr Emmanuel Asante Krobea (2nd left), the Technical Advisor to the minister, and Mr Edward Boateng (middle), the Ambassador of Ghana to China

A Chinese company, Jiangsu Sanxin Environmental Protection Equipment Ltd, is seeking to invest $200m in the production and processing of coconut into a viable commodity in Ghana.

The company, which has already conducted feasibility studies and identified the Western Region as its preferred destination, will build a plant for the production of coconut oil from copra and also process the pod of the fruit into activated carbon.

In a discussion with the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, in Beijing, China, the General Manager of the company, Madam Angel Zhu, explained that officials of the company were in Ghana to explore the potential of  coconut and found investing in the project viable.

She expressed the belief that when the project became a reality, the company would recruit its workforce from within the operational zone and thereby contribute to reducing the unemployment rate in the country.

Prospects

Madam Zhu pledged to make coconut a sought-for commodity, adding that many more farmers might have to go into the production of coconut to meet her company’s demand when the project came into being.

She said the highest technology would be used to produce high quality oil.

She said she would need land to site the company in the Western Region and also wanted to know the policies in the country that facilitated business promotion.

She explained that her desire was for the government to give her exclusivity in the coconut industry should she invest in that area in Ghana to enable her to recoup her investment before other interested groups would be allowed to enter the coconut business.

Dr Akoto

Responding, Dr Akoto said Ghana was practising a liberalised market and could, therefore, not prevent anybody who would want to also enter into the processing of coconut from doing so.

He, however, asked for further discussions on the issue.

The minister explained that in the past, the crop was virtually wiped out by the wilt disease, but the country had been able to get a variety that was resistant to the disease and had a high yield, with an early maturity period.

He said if an investor was interested in going into the processing of coconut, the government could assist the farmers to increase production, adding that the government could nurse enough seedlings for the farmers and provide other forms of support to them as well.