THE decision by the Amansie West District Assembly to turn citronella farming into a real business activity is yielding results.
The assembly has collaborated with the citronella farmers to establish a processing plant at Mem Junction, near Manso Nkwanta, the district capital, to extract the oil for sale to industries.
A company called the Amansie West Citronella Products Limited has been formed to manage the factory, and now more than 500 farmers are engaged in the cultivation of the grass for processing at the factory.
The company has also established its own farm to feed the factory, which is bringing additional returns into their operations.
The district assembly owes 70 per cent shares in the company, while the farmers own 30 per cent.
Presently, Appiah Menkah Complex Limited, which manufactures Apino Soap, is the major purchaser of the oil for use at the factory.
As a result of this, the cultivation of the grass has become attractive, and more farmers are expected to join in the coming years.
Poverty remains the number one enemy of the people in the district, so the decision to expand the citronella production and extraction is key to alleviating the canker.
According to Mr Ben Kwakye-Adeefe, the District Chief Executive (DCE), some pharmaceutical companies had also decided to do business with the extraction company by buying the oil.
Mr Kwakye-Adeefe, himself a farmer, has persistently underlined the prospects of the district to improve its development efforts through citronella production.
Citronella, which is a rich grass, takes about three months to mature. The grass itself and the extracted oil are of immense importance, and it is used in the pharmaceutical, soap and perfume industries.
According to Mr Kwakye-Adeefe, the establishment of the processing company was part of a four-year development programme of the assembly, and it followed a policy of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and PSI to support every district to establish a micro-enterprise.
As a result of the intervention, the assembly released GH¢50,000 in 2004 for the establishment of the processing company, with the Trade Ministry supplementing with GH¢13,200.