The $7 million Ayensu Starch Company Limited (ASCO) established by the Kufour administration in 2004 at Bawjiase in the Central Region to produce starch, is now in a sorry state.
The company has not been in operation since January, 2018 due to the failure of farmers to produce cassava for productions.
The farmers say they feel reluctant to supply the product because of delay in payment on the part of ASCO.
Aside the refusal of farmers to provide raw materials, other challenges facing the company include frequent power outages, lack of funding for spare parts, working capital, faulty processing plant among others.
Ayensu Starch Company is one of Kufour’s Presidential Special Initiatives (PSI); it was set up to buy cassava from famers for the production of starch for export. However, it has struggled since its establishment and nothing appears to have changed after it was relaunched a year and half ago by the John Mahama led NDC government.
The arrangement to bring the factory back to life was a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with government, owning 30 percent shares, while Tiberias Ghana Limited, has the remaining 70 percent.
General Manager for ASCO, Mr. Evans Ayim declined a request from Atinka News to establish facts from the company after a call was placed to that effect, with claims that the company will be back in full operations on March 19, 2018.
An earlier interview with former General Manager of ASCO Mr. Augustus Yeboah Agyemang suggests that, the company has never done well since its inception.
Trade and Industry Minister, Alan Kojo Kyeremateng while in opposition, criticized the Mahama administration for presiding over its collapse, with claims that over 10,000 farmers were supplying products to the company at the time.
He added that, the company was able to attract Nestle Global, as its first partner based on its activeness and that would have been supplying products to other highly international reputable companies if it had been well managed by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.
However, almost a year and half in office, the New Patriotic Party government has done little to revive the company.
Farmers within the catchment areas lament that cassava produce have been going bad because the local market is unable to contain the product, saying that the livelihoods of many farmers are dependent on ASCo and that have had to venture into other areas in the agriculture sector based on its current nature.
As part of the government’s 1D1F, some suggest that government should rather focus on revamping the existing ASCo, to sustain cassava growers in the area and its outskirt.