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They rise above the skyline close to the factories of the Cocoa Processing Company and the Ghana Agro-Food Company Limited in Tema like giant whales standing upright for a kiss with the heavens:

The huge silos outside the Tema Harbour were constructed fourty-three years ago by the government of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to store cocoa and those outside the harbour to store national stockpiles of grain for national food self-sufficiency and security.

The both projects were severely criticized by the political opposition foreign interests with no particular interest in Ghana having eliding producers say in the world prices of cocoa or becoming self-sufficient in food.

The eventual abandonment of the 850, 0000 British pounds silos is best understood in the context of the general opposition to the national industrialization programme Nkrumah embarked upon.

Criticism of the various programmes of national industrialization by the political opposition and Nkrumah’s critics abroad bordered on ridicule: One foreign report on the industrialization and economic development plan was as follows:

“Nkrumah went on a massive spending spree building roads, houses, schools, hospitals, factories, steel works, mining ventures and the largest dry dock in Africa that was rarely ever sued. He built the Akosombo dam and a hydro-electricity power plant on the Volta River at the expense of the spread of endemic river blindness. He {even} constructed concrete silos for the storage of cocoa.

Most of the projects referred to have remained key supporting infrastructure for the nation’s socio-economic development. The silos project has however remained a notable exception.

The cocoa storage silos in Tema with a potential storage capacity of 2000, 000 tons, were built at a cost of 8, 500, 000 British pounds. Nkrumah built the silos at a time when Ghana was the world’s leading producer of cocoa, producing more than 40 percent of the global output of cocoa at the time.

However the political opposition opposed the project, with the World Bank condemning it as impracticable, arguing that the mechanism of filling and emptying the silos were uneconomic. Cocoa beans also tended to split when dropped from dropped from a height as far as the top sections of the silos.

Even more importantly they argued, it was uncertain what would happen to cocoa beans stored in vast quantities in a closed space without air-conditioning in a tropical country. It has since been argued that Nrumah left nothing to chance and that the silos were designed to store cocoa beans at regulated temperatures and humidity and that project was embarked upon at a time when the world price of cocoa beans was very low.

Veteran workers of the cocoa sector insist the project was an excellent idea, similar to ones embarked upon at the time in Europe and America to withhold farmers’ produce when the market was not favourable to the farmers.

Experts in the industry say had the project been interrupted and abandoned, it would have enabled Ghana to keep in adequate storage, up to half of her annual cocoa crop, any time the world cocoa prices fell too low. This would have ednabled Ghana to earn more for her cocoa by now.

If this project had been allowed to continue, Ghana could have earned much more for her cocoa export. Nkrumah had a strong belief that what other countries have used centuries to achieve, Ghana could use a generation to do the same.

Factories that had been built to preserve agricultural produce have been neglected and abandoned while millions of dollars are spent importing canned foods from other countries.

After the overthrow of Nkrumah’s government, the then National Liberation Council abandoned any serious attempts made by Nkrumah to break the economy of neo-colonial dependence on the West. They halted the most laudable projects. A good example was in Tema, where Nkrumah was building a series of cocoa storage silos with a potential capacity of 200,000 tons.

These were to keep at regulated temperatures and humidity, Ghana’s cocoa beans when the world price was unreasonable low. This was an excellent idea, similar to that of farmers in Europe and America withholding their produce when the market is not favourable. At the time of the coup they were not completed and have not been in an operational state, despite the millions of dollars spent on them.

The silos within the Hrbour were built by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s government as part of the Tema Food Complex Corporation (TFCC) project. His government provided most of the infrastructure for the complex. Nkrumah had intended the complex to serve as a food science research center.

Up till today, the facility has the infrastructure to house several faculties of a university or research center of the type Dr. Nkrumah had in mind: A vast estate, four different industrial plants, and large blocks of offices, quality control laboratories and other facilities.

The complex’s giant 10 storey grain silos are the tallest storey building in the immediate harbor area. From the roof the grain storage silos you get a rather dizzying, eagle eye view of the harbor below:

The multi-colored stacks of metal shipping containers awaiting shipment abroad or haulage inland, ships swaying almost imperceptibly in the berthing bay, ships afloat off berthing waters awaiting instructions on where to berth.

The military overthrow of the First Republic temporarily interrupted the Tema Food Complex project. A plague at the complex says the facility was commissioned in 1974 by the late General Kutu Acheampong. The complex begun the production of flour, vegetable oil, poultry feed, canned fish and other canned foods. Initially, the profits seemed to roll in and the complex could to manage a first division football club.

The bug of mismanagement which bit many a state-owned enterprise throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s and reduced them to unproductive establishment draining away state finances did not spare the Tema Food Complex Corporation. Shortly after establishing an image as the country’s leading industrial food complex the slope of productivity declined to near bankruptcy.

The rehabilitation was massive and capital intensive. At the rehabilitated complex this week officials declined to say how much was spent. Refurbishment included repairs, replacement of parts, new high technology installations, renovations and other work on all four industrial plants at the complex.

The government of Ghana initially owned 25% of the business equity shares .Bau Nord AG (IBN), a Switzerland-based business with over 30 years of business investment experience in Africa, owned the remaining 75%.

After taking over from the TFCC, the flour mill remained a paramount revenue earner for GAFCO’s .

By developing world standards the technology GAFCO employed in taking over the facility was an industrial miracle in more ways than one. First there is the mill silo, a colossal concrete structure reaching ten whole storeys into the sky. Within its vast bowels are 14 compartments with a grain storage capacity of 1000 metric tones each.

Huge volumes of wheat or maize rise up the pipes from the lower floors and are moved up by air suction. On each floor machines perform various functions, grinding, removing alien particles, sieving, regrinding, refining, and resieving.All the complex milling operations are controlled from a computerized panel in a control room. In the days of the Tema Food Complex Corporation, milling operations were largely manual. Now the operations of the mill are entirely automated.

The magic of the mill starts even before the actual milling process. While the country’s mills expend substantial investment capital in the haulage of grain from the harbor GAFCO gets its grain out of the harbor without the use of trucks or laborers. This is how the magic works. Between the mill and the Tema Harbor is what looks like a much longer but narrower version of the foot bridges at the Kaneshie market in Accra.

The horizontal structure linking mill with the harbor is a large conveyor belt. Ships carrying wheat or other grain for the mill, dock at the harbor belt of the conveyor belt. The wheat is then released from the ships hold into the conveyor belt which carries the material straight into the mill silo. Tema motorists driving under the conveyor belt seem scarcely aware that above them tones of wheat are rolling down from the harbor to the mill.