The General Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) of the Trades Union Congress-Ghana, has called on the government and relevant state agencies to ban the exportation of raw rubber.
All forms of illegal activities within the rubber industry and other plantations in the country must also be checked as a matter of urgency, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) Ghana member said.
After a tour of the recently destroyed rubber plantation and the expanded factory of the Ghana Rubber Estate (GREL) in the Western Region, the General Secretary of GAWU, Edward Kareweh, said failure to halt the exportation of the raw rubber and incursion by illegal mining activities had the potential to derail the investment and cause job losses.
“We at GAWU are saying this because with the available processing capacity of GREL, under the One-district, One-factory (1D1F), it is currently not getting enough raw rubber for processing.
Therefore, if the export of the raw rubber continues, the factory will not get enough to feed the plants,” he said.
Mr Kareweh emphasised that the government, on behalf of the people, held a significant stake of 26.75 per cent in GREL and any shortfall in the company’s financial health had a direct impact on its ability to fulfill commitments to the state.
He, therefore, called for appropriate state agencies to address the destruction of rubber trees, acts of vandalism, activities of illegal miners, and ban cup lumps (raw rubber) exportation, issues that must be treated as crucial for the country and GREL’s survival.
“We want effective measures to safeguard the company’s lands, ensure a stable production and supply of raw materials, as well as maintain a positive business environment which is essential for the company’s sustainability and its contributions to the local communities and the national economy,” Mr Kareweh added.
Overall industry uncertainty
The country’s estimated raw material production capacity stands at 100,000 tonnes dry per year, while the combined processing capacity of factories in the country reach 140,000 tonnes dry per year.
“However, even without considering exportation, a significant raw material shortfall of 40,000 tonnes dry remains unsatisfied.
Given this shortfall, the ban on the exportation of raw materials assumes paramount importance for the survival and sustenance of the local industry and jobs in the country,” Mr Kareweh insisted.
From the GAWU’s point of view, he said, it was crucial to recognise that maintaining such raw materials within the country was essential to meet the processing demands of domestic factories and ensure their continued operation.
Loss of revenue
Due to unregulated and unchecked exports of rubber, especially by outgrower farmers of GREL, some of the beneficiaries have resolved to sell the raw rubber to other buyers for export and avoid the repayment of the support extended to them.
Mr Kareweh observed that the danger of beneficiary farmers under the outgrower sytem failing to fulfill their loan repayment obligations occasioned by the diversion posed a significant financial risk to the key stakeholders involved and that extending the same to other farmers would be challenging.
The General Secretary of GAWU said the situation could also lead to a loss of revenue to the state and GREL, the processor, pegging the estimated loss at €139.6 million.
Mr Kareweh called for full investigation leading to the arrest of the perpetrators, and holding them accountable to suffer the consequences of their actions.