President Akufo-Addo inspecting the factory (inset)
President Akufo-Addo, on Saturday, visited the premises of Darko Farms Limited, the oldest and largest private poultry farm in the country which almost became defunct but has been revamped by the government’s One-District-One-Factory initiative.
Having been a household name for most Ghanaians, and dominating most supermarkets and distribution outlets for fresh chicken, particularly in Kumasi and Accra, Darko Farms went through a period of decline, due to major challenges that confronted the domestic poultry industry in the late 1990s, including high cost of feed, inefficiencies across the value chain, high electricity and operational cost, as well as competition from cheap imported poultry products.
As part of Government’s Industrial Transformation Agenda, being implemented by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Darko Farms Company was identified as one of the distressed but potentially viable companies.
As a result, the company, in 2017, applied to be part of the flagship One-District-One-Factory initiative, and after a comprehensive review by the Technical Support Group of the Ministry, an amount of GH¢22.1 million was granted as a loan facility to the company by Ghana EXIM Bank.
The amount was earmarked to revamp the company’s operations, by upgrading the plant and equipment, retooling the hatchery, feed mill and processing facility and as working capital support. The company has also applied part of this facility to establish an out-grower scheme, where a number of poultry farmers are supported with broiler chicks, feed as well as technical assistance to breed their birds.
Darko Farms currently has a processing plant operating at 10,000 birds per day with one shift, and 20,000 birds per day with two shifts. It has a hatchery with capacity to produce 6 million day-old chicks a year, breeder farms with a bird population of about 30,000 per batch, a layer farm with capacity of 100,000 per batch, and commercial broiler farms with capacity of 350,000 birds per cycle of eight weeks.
In addition, the company has a feed mill with an installed capacity of 96 metric tonnes of feed per day, and a storage cold room of 500 metric tonnes.
Thus far, the company has created direct employment opportunities for some 250 workers, and indirectly for over 500 people, including out-growers, distributors, and transporters. At full operational capacity, the company will directly employ more than 400 workers, with 700 being indirect employment.
Darko Farms is currently engaged in negotiations with the Mohinani Group to become the major local supplier of processed chicken for Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) restaurant chain. KFC through its local supplier has indicated its preparedness to off-take 100,000 birds monthly from Darko Farms under YUM certified conditions.