Partnerships for local economic development: a case study of the Ayensu starch company at Awutu Bawdwiase (Awutu Effutu Senya District)

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Partnerships for local economic development have been seen as an important concept of development. It is viewed that by combining the strengths and opportunities of the various partners involved will help in overcoming their weaknesses and threat to achieve their planned objectives. It is in this view that this study sought to look at Partnerships for local economic development, a case study of the Ayensu Starch Company (a Presidential Special Initiative on Cassava) at Awutu Bawdwiase in the Awutu Effutu Senya District in the Central Region of the republic of Ghana. The objective of the PSI cassava project is to create employment for the cassava farmers in the rural areas. But in recent times, there have been agitations and complaints by the people, especially the farmers in the project area that the initiative is failing to reduce unemployment, improve upon the income levels of the farmers involved and provide social infrastructure and associated benefits to the communities. According to some of the stakeholders, the project with its infrastructure is becoming a ‘white elephant’. This study was therefore carried out to assess the extent to which the project is achieving its objectives and contributing to local economic development in the district. Both qualitative and quantitative methods of the data collection and analysis were applied. Focus group discussions, key informant interviews and semi-structured interviews were conducted. Tools such as the Stakeholder Analysis, and SWOC Analysis were applied. The study revealed that the critical stakeholders in the project are the government, the project management and the financial institutions, which provide the funds for the project. The project was seen to be under the strong influence of the Government. The Government has moved beyond its roles of facilitating and enabling the establishment to involving itself so much in the management of the project. This may affect the long-term sustainability of the project when the current Government is out of power. The farmers who are very critical to the success of the project are less influential. The Awutu Effutu Senya District (AESD), which is responsible for the entire development of the district, is also less involved in the project. This development is a great threat to the long-term survival of the project. On the contribution of the project to local economic development, it was found out that it is creating jobs for over 2500 farmers in the district. The project’s factory has employed about 51 people with some hailing from communities in the district. It has also provided enough skills to the farmers to enable them improve upon the cultivation of cassava in the district. These skills and the assistance received by the farmers from the project have enabled them to increase their farm size and yields. The cultivation of the cassava crop has also promoted the development of other allied cassava processing industries such as gari and cassava dough production on small scale in the district. This in a way is creating some direct and indirect source of employment for the people in the district. The project has also improved the surface conditions of some of the roads in its areas of operation. Telecommunication has also been given a boost in the district with the inception of the project. Notwithstanding all the above, the project is failing to increase the incomes of the farmers who are directly involved in the cultivation of the cassava due to low prices paid on fresh cassava supplied to the factory. Also, the project faces some constraints. There is frequent power outage in the area, which affects the production level of the factory and thereby increases the cost of production. The cassava variety planted initially also has lower starch content. More so, the company receives a low ex-factory price of about US$ 170 on the European market. Countries such Nigeria and others have also banned the importation of starch. All this is affecting the profitability of the company. In view of this, the farmers receive a low price for the cassava and this is affected negatively affecting their interest in the project. These problems are therefore impeding the project from achieving its stated objectives. These hurdles should be dealt with seriously if the project is to accomplish its stated objectives.
A Thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Development Planning and Management, 2005