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Government saves ailing Darko Farms through 1D1F initiative

The government pumped in about GHC22 million to re-equip the poultry farm, which currently processes 2,000 birds per hour daily as against 500 previously

Darko Farms, the oldest private and largest poultry breeder in Ghana, has received a major boost from the government through the flagship One District, One Factory initiative.

The government has pumped in roughly GHC22 million to retool the poultry operation, which currently processes 2,000 birds per hour daily, against 500 birds per hour daily previously. The revamp is a major boost to agribusiness in Ghana.

According to the chief executive of Darko Farms, Samuel Darko, the government’s support has been of great help to the company.

“For some time now, because of economic hardship, some things went down and by the grace of God and by the help of the Ministry of Trade, we applied for the 1D1F and we were approved and we got some funding.

“Out of the funding that we requested we got our capex and out of the capex we have been able to finish our processing plant where we slaughter 2,000 birds an hour,” Darko said during a visit by President Akufo-Addo on Saturday (2 October) to the factory in the Ashanti Region.

President Akufo-Addo and other officials at Darko Farms
President Akufo-Addo and other officials at the Darko Farms plant

 

Through the initiative, Darko said, approximately 2,500 direct and indirect jobs will be created, and “this injection has helped the whole community”.

The farms will begin supplying chicken to the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) retail franchise once full production begins.

“When everything is complete and we get our capital [GHC17 million] we will be able to supply KFC what they need – about 10,000 chickens weekly.”

Importation of chicken

For his part, the Minister of Trade, Alan Kyerematen, said the support to Darko Farms should see a no-chicken-imports Ghana in years to come.

“Ghana currently imports over GHC350 million worth of chicken every year. We have been told that the capacity of this processing plant is about 20,000 birds a day. So you can do the calculations: if we are able to support this company to maximum production, we won’t need to import chicken into this country,” he said.

An established household name for many Ghanaians, having dominated most supermarkets and distribution outlets for fresh chicken, particularly in Kumasi and Accra, Darko Farms went through a period of decline because of significant challenges that confronted the domestic poultry industry in the late 1990s. These included the high cost of feed, inefficiencies across the value chain, high electricity and operating costs, and competition from cheap imported poultry products.

Darko Farms
A poultry dressing room at the Darko Farms plant

 

Under the government’s Industrial Transformation Agenda, being implemented by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Darko Farms was identified as one of the distressed but potentially viable companies.

Revitalisation

As a result, in 2017, the company applied to be part of the One District, One Factory scheme. After a comprehensive review by the ministry’s technical support group, a sum of GHC22.1 million was granted to the company by way of a loan facility from Ghana EXIM Bank.

The money was earmarked to revamp the company’s operations by upgrading the plant and equipment, retooling the hatchery, feed mill and processing facility, as well as providing working capital support. The company has also applied part of the facility to establish an outgrower scheme, under which a number of external poultry farmers are supported with broiler chicks, feed and technical assistance to breed birds for purchase by the Darko Farms factory.

The Darko Farms processing plant is now operating at 10,000 birds per day with one shift, and 20,000 birds per day with two shifts. It has a hatchery with the capacity to produce six million day-old chicks a year, breeder farms with a bird population of roughly 30,000 per batch, a layer farm with a capacity of 100,000 per batch, and commercial broiler farms with a capacity of 350,000 birds per cycle of eight weeks.

Darko Farms
Slaughtered birds being prepared for dressing at Darko Farms

 

In addition, the company has a feed mill with an installed capacity of 96 metric tonnes of feed per day and a cold room for storage with a capacity of 500 metric tonnes.

So far, the company has created direct employment opportunities for about 250 workers and indirectly for over 500 people, including outgrowers, distributors and transporters. At full operational capacity, the company will employ an additional 400-plus workers directly, and at least another 700 will get jobs indirectly.

Darko Farms is engaged in negotiations with the Mohinani Group to become the major local supplier of processed chicken for the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant chain. KFC has signalled through its local supplier its preparedness to take 100,000 birds monthly from Darko Farms under YUM certified conditions.

Loretta Timah

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