WAMCO One marks significant strides in four years

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The West Africa Mills Company One (WAMCO 1) says it has chalked some significant strides in four years after its resuscitation by the Akuffo-Addo led government.

The company said since its re-activation begun in 2017, it had shipped about 20,000MT of cocoa products out of the country with a value of USD50 Million.

Mr. Frank Bednar, the Chief Executive Officer of the Company, told journalists during the visit of the Minister of Agriculture to the Company that the major export market for the company’s cocoa product remained in Europe.

“WAMCO actively explored new markets in Asia, Middle East and North Africa over the past four years…the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area created new opportunities to do business on the African continent also,” he said.

The company went through some turbulent times between 2014 and 2016, which nearly led to its collapse, putting at risk the employment of hundreds of indigenes in the Western Region and beyond.

WAMCO, one of the oldest cocoa processing companies in Ghana, has two plants but currently, only one is activated.

Mr. Bednar noted the need for the second plant to come on board to ensure maximum production.

The Joint venture between the Government of Ghana with 40 per cent shareholding and Hosta AG from Germany with 60 per cent seemed to be working well with Cocobod fulfilling their part of the constant cocoa bean supply.

The company’s main products included natural cocoa liquor, deodorized cocoa butter and Ghana expeller cake used as raw materials in the chocolate confectionery business.

The CEO hinted that the company was greatly adding value to the raw material and earning foreign exchange for the country as well as building the capacity of young Ghanaians.

Already, the company has found solutions to labour issues and close to 11 million cedis has been disbursed in gratuity to retired staff.

The CEO said, “WAMCO is a unionized company, Together with our social partner ICU – Industrial- and Commercial Union, a member of TUC WAMCO Management agreed on the recall of workers, the conditions of service and payment of exit packages to retired or deceased staff…Today all workers are back and ex-workers fully paid.”

Mr. Bednar told the Agriculture Minister that the business year 2021 was not an easy one as COVID-19 pandemic and the introduction of a “living income differential” (LID), which impacted the cocoa business.

According to him, the demand for cocoa products slowed down in 2021.

The massive revival, sustainability and growth in the last four years notwithstanding, WAMCO, the CEO told the Minister was operating below its capacity and, therefore, not cost-optimal.

“The agreed road-map to gradually revive all plants has not fully been accomplished yet… This requires additional investment and capital injection by the shareholders.”

WAMCO Management’s main objectives in the months ahead, he said, were to increase the capacity level by processing more beans with the re-activation of WAMCO2 and modernization of WAMCO1 to add more value and employ more workers and invest in more alternative power generation to reduce energy costs.

The CEO also noted the need for re-starting the Shea processing business at the Expeller plant since lesser graded beans were not available.

The Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, who expressed happiness at the milestone, promised to ensure that the Board of the company was formed to enable it to give policy direction to the company.

The Minister is on a working tour to the two Regions in the West and the Central Region to have some first-hand information on agribusiness and how the government’s One District One Factory and other such interventions were making an impact in building local economic growth.

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