Sunday, October 20, 2019

Tomato Factory calls for Government Support

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By Yankuba Jallow

Sait Drammeh, the Managing Director of GACH has asked for government support particularly with the cost of electricity, which he considered as expensive. “If we are talking about the viability and the sustainability of industries, electricity is number one – but the cost of electricity is very high,” he said.

The MD made these remarks during the visit of Bai Lamin Jobe, the Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment on Sunday 5th May 2019 at the processing factory of The Gambia Angola China Holding Company (GACH Global).

Jobe said it is part of his mandate to go round the industries to see their work and hear from them their constraints so that the Ministry could support them on overcoming those constraints.

“We need to support our local industries and prevent dumping. We’re here to see what they are doing, discuss with them and see all possible help that can come from us,” Honourable Jobe said.

He said this type of company will reduce the level of importation and create employment for the youths. He indicated that: “We have seen a good number of youths working here,” he said.

He said his Ministry has always been encouraging the local industries to reduce importation of the products they are producing. He challenged the youths to engage themselves in meaningful activities particularly to seek employment.  He indicated that there are job opportunities available for the youths.

“Let them stay away from the ‘bantabas’ and find work,” he said.

About the high price of living, the Minister said The Gambia has moved away from price control.

“We are telling you that for the past twelve months, the price of the basic commodities remains stable. People just talk without knowing the actual fact on the ground. The price of basic commodities is normal,” the Minister detailed.

Sait Drammeh, the Managing Director of GACH said they are involved in processing tomato into tomato paste. He added that the second phase would be to link up with farmers with the support of the government to produce tomatoes that would be transformed into concentrates that will be processed into tomato paste.

He said they have more than hundred staff working for the Company wherein over 60% of the employees are Gambians. He said their major challenge is electricity.

“If we are talking about the viability and the sustainability of industries, electricity is number one – but the cost of electricity is very high,” he said.

He called on the government to lower the cost of electricity adding that they pay heavily on VAT (value added tax).

He said they are thinking of engaging the government to support them to go into solar energy which according to him is very expensive but the onus is on the public sector to support the private sector in order to have a vibrant economy.

He said the GACH is going into product diversification that will include processing of ketchup, mayonnaise and others as they are engaged in sand mining and water production.

“We want to expand into the processing of fruits especially mangoes,” he said.

He said: “what we use as a fresh tomato for factory, the yield per hectare in this country is currently much lower than what our factory requires. What the whole world has done and The Gambia has followed suit is to use industrial tomato of high yield. We have tested a variety that can yield up to 70 to 100 tonnes per hectare. It is a process and we have to engage government again to organize the farmers – we will give them the seeds; they will produce and we will buy and process into concentrate and process into tomato paste.”

He said they would like the government to support them in the areas of transportation of tomato for it is a perishable good.

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