Mangers of two major factories under the government’s One District One Factory initiative in the Central Region, Ekumfi Fruit and Juices Factory, and Casa de Ropa company, say, although they have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, their production capacities have not been significantly reduced.
The two firms, which have received credit facilities from the Ghana Export and Import Bank, say they have put measures in place to increase production post-COVID-19.
The Ekumfi Fruit and Juices Factory, located at Ekumfi Nanaben, was set up to work with out-grower schemes to grow pineapple for processing under the One District One Factory initiative.
The factory produces pineapple juice under the brand name ‘Eku juice’, comprising 100% pineapple with no additives.
It has the capacity to process and package 80 to 150 metric tons of pineapple per day. It processes other fruits aside from pineapple and has the capacity to produce 10 tons of fruit per hour, making it one of the biggest fruit processing factories in West Africa.
The Casa de Ropa factory, on the other hand, is also into the production and processing of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes into bread, chips and other pastry products.
It is also a green field project and can produce between 7,200 metric tons of pastries per day with a workforce of 150.
The factories, like other businesses, were not spared the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The companies say their supplies to schools and other institutions locally were affected in March 2020 when the three-week partial lockdown started; nonetheless, they maintained their workforce.
“It adversely affected our businesses, especially in March when the lockdown started. So, we had to reorganise our production schedule. We produce a lot of potato pastries for school children. We also have a big restaurant on the University of Cape Coast campus, so once the school system was shut down it affected us. But as of now, with the easing of the lockdown restrictions, things are picking up,” Ebenezer Obeng Baffoe, CEO of Casa De Ropa said.
For Frederick Kobbyna Acquah, Director of Operations at Ekumfi Fruit and Juices factory, he said “the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all our projections. In the early days, it led to a complete shutdown of the business, which has affected every aspect of the business and our plans, especially for the schools.”
Director of Corporate Affairs for the Ghana Exim Bank, Richard Osei Anane, says they are ready to defer loan payments due to the impact of COVID-19 on the businesses.
“COVID-19 pandemic is a global pandemic. Obviously, companies and projects would have to redesign how they will strategize to meet their demands. Businesses have slowed down, so as a financial institution, we are ready to prolong the loan payments of our clients because this is a force majeure,” he said.
The two factories have not begun exporting their products to Europe and elsewhere, although there are plans to do that in the long term. According to them, they want to satisfy the local market first.
“That is the non-traditional export sector. These two factories were financed by Exim Bank so that they will use the raw materials here to produce. There is local demand for their products. So, the strategy is for them to satisfy the local market and export later,” he added.