The Ekumfi Fruits and Juices Limited, the first fruit processing factory to be established under One-District-One-Factory by the Akufo-Addo led government in August 25 2017, has started test-run of its extraction lines.
The Ghana EXIM Bank financed fruits processing company is at it completion stage as engineers vigorously install the remaining processing and packaging plants for full compliment of equipment to commence production.
The extraction line has a bath that washes sorted pineapple from the farms which is then carried through a conveyer belt to a cleaner and a steriliser before it gets into a crusher to separate the chaff from the juice.
The second stage which is the processing segment will comprise filtration where comprehensive cleaning works begin. Also know as pasteurisation stage this is where the product is taking through a process that will keep the product stay as original as pineapple and also keep it longer.
The third stage which is packaging has three lines or stand ups. First, is the tetra box or tetra pack packaging. At this stage the product is packaged in a box for easy use. The second step is the can packaging where the finished product is put in cans for consumption. Lastly, is the bottle packaging where the fruit is put in bottles for sale on the market.
The Ekumfi success story came to the fore when the national coordinator for the 1D1F programme Mrs Gifty Ohene-Konadu, embarked on a working visit to the Ekumfi Fruits and Juices Limited to ascertain progress of work last Friday July 19 2019.
Purpose of Visit
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Statesman at the factory site in Ekumfi in the Central Region, Mrs Ohene-Konadu said the visit is part of monitoring process of the secretariat to see progress of work at the various factories.
She told this paper Ekumfi was the first place the policy was launched and they have come to monitor progress of the project.
“As you can see everything is on course. The machines are here. They’ve been installed they’ve done the first test-run. The others will come and continue with the others. I think so far so good. I want you to capture and publicised this widely so that those who have a whole lot of misconceptions about 1D1F this will clarify everything. Show everything so that people will see this was not a mere words from His Excellency the President”, Mrs Ohene-Konadu said.
She emphasised the Ekumfi example is an indication by the President to establish a factory in every district of Ghana.
“This is just one of them. There are others. But, you should also know that we don’t want to do anything shoddy because we want sustainable factories. We don’t want anything shoddy which will break down because the factory belongs to private people. It belongs to individual companies.
We are playing facilitation roles. We will help you secure a loan and you will pay the loan. It is not government. We will help you to get all the necessary that will enhance your work. Our interest is that you will employ people, the people are happy and the economy is booming. That is our profit as government, Mrs Ohene-Konadu noted with delight.
The national coordinator for 1D1F appealed to the media to publish the Ekumfi success story for people to see and appreciate that Ekumfi is now a reality.
Work on Project
For his part, the director of operations of Ekumfi Fruits and Juices Limited, Frederick Kobbyna Acquaah, told this paper apart from the extraction line that is fully installed, the processing and the packaging plants will be installed in the weeks ahead.
He revealed the company will not only process pineapple juice but go into mix fruits such as passion fruits, citrus and ginger to augment production varieties.
According to him, as part of the company’s succession plan, it is undertaking research and development in the area of fruits mixes.
He added the Italian manufacturers of the extraction machines have successfully trained Ghanaian staff to enable the locals operate the machines.
Prospects of Company
Mr Frederick Kobbyna Acquaah said the factory which is sitting on a 50-acre land has 100-metres length and and 50-metres width of factory floor space large enough for additional production works.
He mentioned the factory has 15 shared-grower sites where a maximum of 40 and minimum of 30 per site are working in the farms for the production of the raw materials.
He disclosed the factory has a 20-acre land for staff quarters with canteen, and clinic to be managed by specialists to cater for the health of employees.
Asked why it has taken all these years to realise this dream, Frederick Kobbyna Acquaah told this paper they divided their activities into three areas. One being the factory building itself, the processors which is the machine and the raw materials.
“We are doing fruit juice base as pineapple. Ekumfi is mainly a pineapple growing enclave. But, we needed to grow pineapple that will meet our particular specification in terms of quality, quantity, time grown etc. So we did not begin by just buying pineapple to process we actually started from ground zero.
Got our lands, got our farms, did our land preparations got our suckers and took them through all the regimes, planted, thundered for them to mature. It took sometime to enable us begin our factory proper. A lot of work has gone on at the factory.
As we speak, we have a full compliment of machines that we need for this processing here in this factory. From this point, you put in the fruit here in the basin and you have to run to the other end to see either the tetra box or tetra pack box or the can or the bottle”, the operations manager said in excitement.
He thanked the President of Ghana for the vision for helping the factory established in Ekumfi and expressed gratitude to the national coordinator for the supervisory role in the entire project.