Coordinator of the Third World Network Africa, Dr Yao Graham is asking the government to come up with a policy that will encourage more Ghanaians to go into salt production as a way of increasing revenues and promote local content.
The call is coming at a time when concerns are being raised about the high level of foreign firms taking over the salt industry.
With a potential production capacity of more than two million tonnes per year, the country currently manages only 250,000 tonnes, which represents just 10 per cent of what nature offers on the coast.
Speaking to JoyBusiness, Dr Graham stressed the need to adequately develop the salt sector as it can generate a huge employment.
“When you look at the bulk of salt producers today, they are mainly small-scale miners who are women along the two main lagoons in the Volta region.
Government policy now is to try and drive out the local small-scale miners to make way for the large-scale ones like the situation with gold.”
Dr Graham said, “This means you replicate what is happening in the gold sector in the salt mining and that will obviously cause problems. When really you could say that because of the nature of salt production, there is a possibility of encouraging higher productivity by using small-scale miners.”
He further stressed that “it is a strategy that can bring in some large scale guys who will be tasked to be doing the refining of the salt to increase output but also generate a lot of jobs. There have to be a deliberate attempt to get the youth in the area who are unemployed to get into salt production.”
Salt, a renewable natural resource which contributes over GH¢5 billion annually to Ghana’s economy and employs over 1000 people, but Ghana is losing out on the potential of the industry impact on the revenue of the country.
The production of salt in Ghana started in the 19th century and it is the major economic activity of the people of Ada in the Dangme East District of the Greater Accra Region and Keta areas.
It is important to stress that salt which some call the “white gold” is the only renewable natural resource that could enhance the livelihoods of generations especially for those living around the lagoons where mining takes place.
Therefore, it is imperative that government steps in to increase and enhance local production or is it the case that the salt industry is not of priority to governments because of its meagre contribution to GDP, Dr Graham lamented.
Salt contributes more than 70% of internally generated funds (IGFs) of the Dangme East District Assembly.
But Dr Graham pointed out that, the salt industry creates large employment and provides capital for other economic activities like farming and fishing, hence is significant that the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources develops the salt industry to complement the contributions of natural resources to poverty reduction.