Dr. John Kofi Mensah
Over 1,100 farmers in the AAK district in the central region are excited about the partnership for Crop Improvement and Replacement Support from Central Citrus Processing Limited (CCPL).
The CCPL, in the next couple of months, will commission one of the largest citrus processing plant expected to process over 15 tons of oranges into fruit juice per hour.
The factory in partnership with Ekumfi Juices and Processing Factory is poised to place Ghana at the forefront for natural fruits and Juices.
This project has come in timely to the farmers of the district as over the years they have not been making profits from their citrus farms and were cutting them down to grow other crops. These farmers are 75 years in age and had lost hope in the industry as their children shy away from citrus farming.
Today with the intervention of CCPL, the youths have grained employment through the mechanised community crop management Services. It is expected that this factory processes fruit from an average of 6000 acres per year into both juices and oils both meant for exports and local markets.
Last year, the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) partnered the OVCF with an aim to revamp the citrus industry.
Through this partnership, ADB gave financial support to the Central Citrus Processing Limited to develop and cultivate the over-3,000 acres of abandoned citrus farms located at Cape Coast in the Central region.
It is estimated that the company will generate an income of about ¢250million annually.
This support by ADB was expected to go a long way in creating more sustainable jobs, and also cut down on the importation of fruit-juice into the country.
Central Citrus Limited will be getting a direct off-take from the Ekumfi Fruits and Juices Factory to make sure their produce is used to blend the Eku tropical varieties to enhance their taste.
This support by ADB means the bank has bought into the vision of President Akufo-Addo to take off the shelves of most of these foreign products and bring in Ghanaian products.
Ghana has the two most suitable sources of oranges coming after South Africa, which makes it a prudent venture that ADB has signed onto.
The decision by ADB to go into this venture will lead to the creation of more jobs – promoting processing, reducing importation and shielding the cedi from unnecessary pressure.
The enclave has over 75,000 acres of citrus, and with the support from ADB it will scale up economic activities sharply.
The average citrus farmers have abandoned their farms because of poor revenue coupled with insect infestation and plant diseases, together with unproductive work processes which often hamper cultivation. Many of the seedlings are pest-ridden, making them useless for further planting.
This frustration usually makes the farmers switch over to the cultivation of rubber and cassava.
For the past 10 years, most citrus farms have been abandoned, as the importation of finished products has outweighed the processing opportunities in the country.
ADB’s financial support was to help improve the quality of citrus production and increase sustainable income for all actors along the citrus value chain.
Citrus fruit have long been valued as part of a nutritious and tasty diet. The flavours provided by citrus are among the most preferred in the world, and it is increasingly evident that citrus not only tastes good but is also good for people.
It is well established that citrus and citrus products are a rich source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre (non-starch polysaccharides) that are essential for normal growth and development as well as overall nutritional well-being.