Mr. Alan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade and Industry, has rebutted claims that Government is only rebranding some existing projects as "One District, One Factory"(1D1F) companies.
Critics of the Government's flagship programme have always been quick to raise issues anytime names of projects under the programme are put out, asserting that some of the companies are not new.
Mr. Kyerematen, at a media encounter in the Ashanti region, restated that the programme was not only about the birthing of greenfield projects, but also the resuscitation of existing but distressed companies.
He said supports were also being given to vibrant companies to either expand or introduce new production lines.
“If we say we are embarking on an industrial transformation agenda, if we say we want to stimulate industrial growth, what senses will it make if we allow struggling existing companies to collapse and say that we are supporting only Greenfield projects? Why don't we extend similar support to these struggling companies for them to get back on their feet so that we are able to sustain the livelihoods of the Ghanaians who have been employed there as well as increase their capacity to recruit even more?” The Minister asked.
The Trade Minister's media engagement was on the back of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo's tour of Darko Farms as part of the President's visit to the Ashanti region.
Mr. Kyerematen said Darko Farms was a testament to the wisdom of the President in extending the incentives of the programme to distressed but potentially viable projects.
Darko Farms and Company Limited is the oldest private and largest poultry farm established in 1967 with most of its operations located in Akropong in the Atwima Nwabiagya District of the Ashanti Region.
It was a household name for most Ghanaians for the production and sale of fresh wholesome and quality chicken and dominated most supermarkets and distribution outlets for fresh chicken in Kumasi and Accra.
The Company, however, went through a period of decline due to major challenges confronting the domestic poultry industry, including the high cost of feed, high cost of borrowing, inefficiencies across the value chain, high electricity and operational cost, management, and governance issues as well as cheap imports.
As part of the Government’s industrialisation programme, the Company was identified as viable but distressed and considered under the 1D1F programme in 2017.
It received the support of GHc 22.1 Million (out of the 39 million cedis which were initially requested) loan facility granted by Ghana EXIM Bank as a stimulus package to revamp operations.
The money is expected to help improve the value chain of the operations, upgrade, retool the hatchery, feed mill, and processing facility, pay outstanding workers’ salaries, and statutory obligations.
The 1D1F support includes helping establish out-grower schemes and the provision of technical assistance at no cost to the Company.
Darko Farms has a processing plant operating at 10,000 birds per day with one shift and 20,000 birds per day with two shifts and has re-tooled all its commercial farms to bring them up to international standards and increased day-old chicks and feed mill production to supply out-growers.
It has a hatchery with a capacity to produce 6 million day-old chicks a year, breeder farms with a bird population capacity of about 30,000 per batch, layer farms with a capacity of 100,000 per batch.
It also has commercial broiler farms with a capacity of 350,000 per cycle of 8 weeks, a feed mill with an installed capacity of 96 tons of feed per day, a storage cold room of 500 tons, and corn farmland of 1,250 acres at Ejura.
Darko Farms is currently implementing an out-grower scheme where farmers are supplied with broiler chicks, feed as well as appropriate support to breed the birds, which are purchased at maturity by the Farms for processing on a contractual basis.
Currently, the Company has employed 250 workers directly and more than 300 indirectly consisting of out-growers, distributors, and transporters.
At full operation, it is expected to directly employ more than 400 workers for its operations, with 500 indirect employments through the out-growers scheme, transporters, packaging and handling, and sales outlets.
The Company is engaged with the Mohihani Group, the major local supplier of processed chicken for Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), and other big players in the food industry.
KFC, through its local supplier, has indicated its preparedness to off-take 100,000 birds monthly from Darko Farms under certified conditions.
The Company also has sales outlets in Accra and Kumasi and intends to open more sales outlets in all regional capitals.