A new factory has emerged at Walewale in the West Mamprusi District of the Northern Region, creating huge employment opportunities for many of the unemployed youth in the area.
The factory, called “Blue Coast Ghana Company Limited”, is owned by some Chinese nationals for the production of fresh donkey meat and skins for export to Chinese markets.
The company started operations about three weeks ago (January 4th 2017) and has already employed over 100 youth within the West Mamprusi District.
The one million dollar factory, which falls in line with the government’s one district one factory initiative, is certainly going to make donkeys one of the hottest or most sought-after animals in the Mamprusi areas of the Northern Region of Ghana, and neighbouring Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
At the moment, the company, which has acquired all the necessary legal documents for its operations, slaughters, at least, 100 donkeys daily for storage in well-designed modern cold rooms, awaiting the right quantity for export to China.
Blue Coast Ghana, according to its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Nicholas Leo, also has plans to process other animals such as cow, sheep, goats and poultry for the local markets.
Speaking in an interview with The Chronicle, he said that donkey meat is one of the best delicacies in China, and was optimistic that the Blue Coast Ghana Company would soon be expanded to employ hundreds of the youth in Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions.
The company has different departments or units such as slaughtering unit, packaging unit, storage unit, animal care unit, transport unit and security unit among others, where most of the youth are employed.
Mr. Nicholas Leo told The Chronicle that his company was established in the Northern Region, not purposely because of the availability of donkeys to serve as raw material, but to help reduce the rate of poverty and unemployment among the people in the region.
Another factor, he said, was to have an easy access to the donkey markets in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, where the animals are much more available for sale.
Even though there were earlier speculations that Blue Coast Ghana Company Limited was buying the raw material (donkeys) from the locals in Walewale, leading to donkey theft, the CEO completely denied the allegation. He maintained that the company had operated for only three weeks, and all the donkeys they had processed were imported from Burkina Faso and Mali in two articulator trucks.
Mr. Nicholas Leo said that upon their arrival in the district, the local authorities, including the chiefs and the West Mamprusi District Assembly, told them that the donkeys were serving good purposes for the local farmers, and must, therefore, look elsewhere for supplies, which instruction his company had strictly adhered to.
“So it was a rumour, and it is never true that we buy stolen donkeys from Walewale area. Before we even came down to establish this company in Walewale, we had already identified big markets in other West African countries, and entered into business agreements with them. The donkeys in Walewale are just few, and they cannot sustain our company, but if in future the local people want to go into donkey rearing and sell to our company, we will support them in any way we can.”
He stated that the company had over 10 branches across the world, and their policy was that they do not deplete the local communities in which they operate, off the donkeys.
Mr. Nicholas Leo hinted that Blue Coast Ghana had identified several areas of support for the community to develop, reduce poverty and joblessness among the people. “My company is just new; we have not even exported a single container to China, and we haven’t made any profit. But as the time goes, we are going to do a lot to help the community to grow. So we are going to fulfill our Corporate Social Responsibilities.”
He, however, complained bitterly about the high electricity bills, which, he said, was highly unbearable and has the potential to cripple the company. He said that the company buys close to GH¢10,000 of power every week.
However, some of the workers who spoke to this paper, including Yakubu Farouk, Emmanuel Tano and one Sadick, expressed joy working with Blue Coast Ghana Company Limited. According to them, working with the company had brought smiles to the faces of their families, as they no longer find it difficult to cater for their needs.
The West Mamprusi District Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Alhaji Alhassan Ibrahim Yahaya, said that his outfit was aware of the existence of Blue Coast Ghana Company Limited, but he did not have much information about their operations. He appealed to them not to make attempts to buy donkeys from the local people, since the donkeys were helping in the development of agriculture.
The General Secretary of the Concerned Muslim Youth Association in Mamprusi, Sulemana Hisham, who has also paid a visit to the company, expressed satisfaction about their operations. He reminded the management of their Corporate Social Responsibilities, and also making sure that they employ more of the youth in Walewale.
The Youth Leader downplayed agitations by some Muslims in the area who were allegedly planning to attack the company for dealing inmeat they considered as a taboo to eat.
Mr. Hisham appealed to his people to see the company as a development partner, but not an enemy, since the meat is not processed for consumption in the local market.
“The fact that we don’t consume the meat doesn’t mean that everybody should not consume. I spoke with the company when I visited them, because people came with a lot of complaints, and I saw that they are packaging all the meat for export. We must be happy that we have this company that is here to employ some of our own people. As a community, we need to only protect our donkeys if we feel that people are stealing to sell to the company. So that there will be a win-win situation.”