The Techiman Processing Complex (TEPCO), an agro-processing company at Techiman in the Brong Ahafo Region, says it will soon commence full operation as measures to mitigate its operational setbacks are responding positively, Will Aparloo Ofori, CEO of TEPCO, has said.
The company has struggled to be fully operational since it was installed in 2007. The management of the 20,000 metric tonne per annum processing plant has been battling difficulties in accessing the right raw material (improved fresh variety of tomatoes) and high energy cost (electricity and diesel).
However, strategic measures adopted by TEPCO are yielding results toward the realising the desired objective behind construction of the facility. The construction of a garbage-fed bio-gas digester for producing electricity and gas to power its boiler is almost ready; the company has also identified greenhouse technology farmers for reliable supplies of raw material, Mr. Ofori has stated.
He disclosed these when the Trade and Industry Minister Mr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah paid a familiarisation visit to the company. “The bio-gas digester will not only provide us with sustainable, cheap electricity and gas, but also produce organic fertiliser for farmers. We believe the greenhouse technology is the best antidote to our raw material challenge and we are collaborating with identifiable actors,” he explained.
“The Akomadan and Tanoso irrigation sites are also other potential sources that can easily feed the company, if developed. Those places can also be used for cultivating the required improved tomato varieties, but the only challenge is high energy cost. The energy cost challenge at the irrigation sites can be resolved through the use of solar panels,” he added.
He prayed government to seek private sector intervention to address the energy problem bedevilling irrigation in the country. “I think the government alone cannot take care of the challenges facing irrigation in the country, and it would be appropriate to seek collaboration with interested private investors.”
The Trade Minister, Mr. Spio-Garbrah who was quiet impressed with efforts by management to get the company running, urged them to embrace innovations in the industry to stay competitive. “I appreciate the concern that tomatoes grown in this area are not suitable for processing, but you can also preserve these same tomatoes in bottles to prolong their shelf-life until you commence the actual industrial processing when the required varieties are ready.”
The Techiman Tomato factory was established by government in collaboration with its Italian counterpart in 2007. It was officially inaugurated in 2012, and a year later it was given out to a private investor in the scope of public-private partnership (PPP). The plant also has the capacity to process watermelon and mango juice. Operators have intermittently tried some test-runs, but such attempts are yet to translate into large-scale production.
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