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April 17, 2008

Ghanaian cocoa processing plant may close due to lack of raw materials

Ghana's West Africa Mills Company (WAMCO 1), a cocoa processing company operating in Sekondi-Takoradi, is to be closed down.

According to sources, this is due to the non availability of low grade cocoa beans.

Investigations show that from January 2008 to date the company has not been able to operate due to prevailing circumstances. This has raised concern among the almost 209 workforce whose fate appears to be in limbo. The workers union held a meeting with the shop stewards fecently in order to communicate the information to the entire staff about the problems facing the company.

Out of the three plants installed, the company is currently operating just one. This has resulted in a situation where workers are compelled to work in shifts.

WAMCO 1 is using low or light class cocoa beans for processing and production on the grounds that it is cheaper to buy. The sister company, WAMCO 2, on the other hand relies on main or large crop cocoa beans for processing and production, which is said to be more expensive than the low class cocoa beans.

Reports suggest that light crop cocoa beans, harvested between July and September last year make up only a small proportion of the annual output but regularly sell at 20percent discount to larger main crop beans.

Light crop beans are smaller and cheaper beans compared to the main crop which has dwindled in size over the years as a result of improved growing practices and the adoption of modern methods of farming which has boosted good quality main crop production.

As a result, management of WAMCO 1 has written to the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) of the Trade Union Congress to intervene on the steps to take to lay down its temporary staff with due regard to the labour law if the situation continues unabated.

Management is also expected to communicate the problem to the staff to disabuse speculations making rounds that the incompetence of management has resulted in the situation.

Modern Ghana

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