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The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Haruna Idrissu, has said government may, in the future, consider taking measures to discourage the importation of flour into the country in order to reinforce local production.
The Minister made the comment at the end of a familiarization tour of Olamâ€™s 500 metric tonnes per day wheat mill at Kpone, near Tema.
â€œIt is too early to impose an administrative ban on these imports now, but in the long term, we will need to access whether local manufacturers have the capacity to meet local demand and consumption of flour; once that is established, government will take steps to discourage the importation of flour into the country and encourage the use of what is produced here locally,â€ Mr. Idrissu said.
He stressed that if local producers of flour showed a strong capacity to meet local demand, some cost benefit analysis will have to be done on the pricing of imported flour as against flour produced by local manufacturers and if the price of locally manufactured flour proved favourable, the government will adopt necessary strategies to protect local producers.
The Olam Wheat Mill is a US$55 million investment commissioned in February 2012, which employs some 200 workers and produces six popular brands, including the Royal Gold, a premium bread flour and First Choice Gold, a bakersâ€™ favourite, very popular as a pastry flour.
After being conducted through the various milling processes and the quality control regimes of the mill, the Minister for Trade said he was highly impressed with the employment opportunities offered to Ghanaians by the factory and by the fact that wheat was being produced locally by a local manufacturer instead of being imported from overseas.
The Minister later visited Olamâ€™s state-of-the-art tomato paste factory, reputed as being the largest tomato processing plant in West Africa, where Tasty Tom, a leading brand of tomato paste, is produced by a largely Ghanaian workforce of over 250.
Mr. Idrissu appealed to the Management of Olam to work with government and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to explore the possibility of developing local tomato varieties for processing.
He stressed that it was essential that all manufacturers endeavoured to maintain acceptable quality standards and that exporters especially must comply strictly with the minimum standards set by the Ghana Standards Authority so that Ghanaian exports may have â€˜an easy flowâ€™ into the international market.
Citing the introduction in Ghana of the latest technology in the tomato processing and cannery industry and the application of world class safety and quality control standards, Managing Director of Olam , Mr. Amit Agrawal, said Olam is extremely proud of its investments in the economy.
â€œWe are happy that the government acknowledges the contributions of Olamâ€™s investments, particularly in the context of local employment generation and value addition. We look forward to continued support from the government to make the manufacturing sector viable and thereby encourage Olam to continue to invest more in the economy,â€ said Mr. Agrawal.
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