The management of Casa De Ropa, a sweet potato producing and processing company established under the One District, One Factory (1D1F) industrialization policy is seeking an amount of GH¢3 million bailout from Exim Bank to sustain its operations.
Mr Ebenezer Obeng-Baffoe, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company, said prior to the commissioning of the facility, the Exim Bank agreed to loan it a GH¢3 million additional working capital to augment its operations but that had not been fulfilled as promised, thereby, affecting the company’s operations.
He told the Ghana News Agency (GNA), in an interview that a huge quantum of the GH¢14.4-million loan facility went into preparatory works, tools and equipment, infrastructure and commissioning.
According to him, the company had not operated at full capacity since its commissioning by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in August 2020 due to financial constraints to augment production.
“Currently, the company is not operating at full capacity and has never operated at full capacity due to logistical constraints. The envisaged production has not taken place yet, it is like a hand-to-mouth thing we are doing.”
“At the moment, we are surviving by our small restaurant at the University of Cape Coast where our products are sold to pay workers. We are doing strategic production on a limited scale hoping the Exim Bank will grant us the amount,” he said.
The company processes orange-fleshed sweet potato into a puree, which is further processed into biscuits, bread, crisps and chips, using improved production technology.
Mr Obeng-Baffoe also lamented the poor state of road infrastructure at the company and the high cost of maintaining the huge facility, particularly the ultra-modern farm implements and production equipment.
Also, many farm implements are stacked in the bush, battling with weeds while packaging materials and production plants lie idle.
Mr Obeng-Baffoe said the situation has forced the company to reduce its workforce from 154 in 2018 and 26 in 2022.
At full capacity, the company could employ 1004 workers including 450 distributors, 150 farmers, 150 processors, 150 factory workers and 550 commission workers.
Nonetheless, he assured us that it will soon live its dreams of becoming a centre of excellence, through collaboration with universities and other agricultural institutions, to create a platform for research and knowledge sharing between academia and industry.
“This factory, gradually, is positioning itself as one of the most innovative food processing companies in the country, with the potential to expand its operations to take advantage of the domestic market for processed food,” he added.
“Another milestone achieved by the factory is the fact that women currently constitute more than 80 per cent of the workforce, as a result of a deliberate policy to empower women.
He indicated that beyond the jobs created for the youth through the processing of the produce, processed products of quality foods for children to help make them healthy.
In the long term, however, he said the company seeks to use sweet potato as a raw material to produce medical banners, mosquito coils, organic fertilizer, flour, biscuits, noodles, and baby foods, among others.