GHANA – The Universal Merchant Bank (UMB) and Central Sugar Company Limited have signed a US$10.8 million agreement to establish a factory that would process cassava into starch for export.

On completion, the factory aims to process 200 tonnes of cassava on a daily basis and is expected to employ about 115 persons and 2,000 jobs for the various farms within eight months.

The new factory, to be established in Brong Ahafo Region, Pru district, is part of the One District, One Factory (IDIF) flagship project which aims to address the challenge of slow economic growth at the district level through a massive nationwide industrialisation drive.

According to GNA, the factory will also undertake the processing of by-products such as biogas to fuel the factory and fertilizer for the various farms.

Mr Alan Kyeremanten, Minister of Trade and Industry said the strategic objectives of the IDIF was to create jobs in the rural areas, stem the rural-urban migration, increase foreign exchange as a result of the creation of an export market as well as enhance skills of the people.

IDIF is an initiative implemented by the government in partnership with the private sector, banks and the local assemblies, who works closely to district implementation teams at the district level.

Under the IDIF programme, the minister said machines or equipment, importation of some raw materials would enjoy duty free and firms would also enjoy tax holidays for five years.

He reaffirmed government’s commitment to support to ensure the success of these projects noting that the signing ceremony was in fulfilment of the bank’s pledge made to the Presidency to support the IDIF.

Commenting on the matter, Managing Director of UMB said that while some banks had set up desk for the IDIF, UMB had gone further to establish UMB Private Public Partnership Incubator Centre to handle the government’s flagship programme and had so far received over 100 projects as part of the country’s industrialisation programme, and 22 of the project transactions were being considered for approval.

The bank is using the opportunity to add value to products such as cassava by prioritizing industrialisation.