Government to reduce sugar imports

The government is pursuing an aggressive National Sugar Policy to ensure a reduction in the importation of sugar, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, has stated.

That, he explained, had been necessitated by the amount of money Ghana spent on the importation of sugar every year, despite the favourable climatic and soil precondition for sugarcane production it was endowed with.

Ghana spends approximately US$ 400 million on the importation of sugar each year.

Dr Spio-Garbrah made this known when he addressed the maiden consultative meeting on the national draft sugar policy in Accra yesterday.

The meeting served as a platform for stakeholders to familiarise themselves with the draft sugar policy, validate it and take decisions on revamping the local sugar industry.

The draft policy was developed by the Ministry of Trade and Industry to serve as a national strategic guideline for players in the sector and prospective investors.

The document is also expected to be the guideline for the refurbishment of the local sugar industry to ultimately make it compete with other international markets.

Dr Spio-Garbrah said the policy was also targeted at ensuring that the country became self-sufficient in the production of sugar between two and four years.

He said as part of the intervention measures, the government was including private participation in its quest to revamp the local sugar industry.

In his remarks, the Chief Director of the ministry, Mr Dawarnoba Baeka, said the once vibrant industry, which was producing approximately 40,000 metric tonnes of sugar yearly between 1960 and 1980, had collapsed.

He said since the Asutuare and Komenda sugar factories ceased production, Ghana had had to import sugar to satisfy all requirements which currently stood at about 200,000 tonnes annually.

The Asutuare factory started operation in 1966 with a capacity of 30,000 tonnes of sugar yearly.

The sugar plant at Komenda, with a capacity of 15,000 tonnes of sugar annually, started operations in 1967.

Mr Baeka attributed the collapse of the two sugar factories to a number of reasons, including the lack of a national policy framework and excessive governmental control.

According to the draft policy, sugar is the eighth most valuable product imported by the country in 2013 and the fourth largest food import after rice, fish and poultry.

It said despite the significant demand for sugar, domestic production was currently zero.

The draft policy proposes eight strategic objectives, including the provision of land, infrastructure development, human resource development, research development, legal and regulatory framework and financing and tax framework.

Source : graphic.com.gh