On July 26th, 2023, a delegation from the General Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU), led by General Secretary Mr Edward Kareweh, conducted an important visit to ascertain the extent of destruction that occurred a few weeks ago in Division 1. The team arrived at the recently destroyed rubber plantation, witnessing the aftermath of the devastating incident. The severity of the damage served as a stark reminder of the urgent issues that needed to be addressed.

Following their assessment of the destruction, the GAWU team proceeded to GREL’s Tsibu rubber factory located in Ahanta Municipal Assembly of the Western Region. During the factory visit, they examined its operations and capacity to process raw rubber. The visit to the factory aimed to understand the lack of raw material for GREL’s factories which is a matter of grave concern for the sustainability of its factory operations.

The findings from both visits formed the foundation of the recommendations presented by Mr Kareweh.

Mr Edward Kareweh emphasised the need to ban raw rubber exportation and address all forms of illegal activities within the GREL’s plantation and other plantations. He warned that the exportation of raw rubber and encroachment by illegal mining activities could jeopardise investments and result in significant job losses.

The available processing capacity of the Ghana Rubber Estates Limited (GREL) under the “One-District One-factory” (1D1F) initiative was insufficient due to the ongoing export of raw rubber. With the government holding a substantial stake in GREL (26.75%), any financial strain on the company could directly impact its commitments to the state. He, therefore, called for appropriate state agencies to safeguard the company’s lands, ensure stable production and supply of raw materials, and maintain a favourable business environment for the company’s sustainability and contributions to local communities and the national economy.

GAWU stressed the importance of banning raw rubber export to satisfy the country’s raw material shortfall and ensure the survival and sustenance of the local industry and jobs. The unregulated export of rubber by some out-grower farmers of GREL has resulted in revenue losses, as beneficiaries sell raw rubber to other buyers, avoiding repayment of the support extended to them. This diversion poses a significant financial risk to key stakeholders, with an estimated loss of €139.6 million in revenue to the state and GREL.

In conclusion, the General Secretary of GAWU called for a thorough investigation to identify the perpetrators responsible for the destruction and hold them accountable for their actions and the urgency for the government to address these issues and implement effective measures to ensure the country’s well-being and GREL’s survival.