MILLION DOLLAR MARKETING

Ghana 2018 | AGRICULTURE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Michel Ghajar, Operations Manager at Takoradi Flour Mill, on a new marketing strategy, export growth, and attracting investment to agribusiness in Ghana.

Michel Ghajar
BIOGRAPHY
Michel Ghajar is a trained professional accountant. Born in Lebanon, he studied at St. Jeb University in Lebanon. He is currently Operations Manager at Takoradi Flour Mill in Accra, Ghana.

How have operations evolved since 2015, and what are your plans for the near future?

We continue to improve, and we are still on track to meet our goals. We have a large marketing strategy that will be executed in the next three to eight years. Our plan is to expand, be more focused on export processes, and consolidate our share of the market using the best technology in flour milling. We seek to increase our flour mill's capacity and expand our market both through exports and new warehouses as soon as we get approval from shareholders. We cannot limit ourselves to merely reacting to what happens around us, especially now that the market is not as quick as it was before, and there is a great deal of payment delay and lack of credit return. To remain proactive, a company has to expand and look beyond the country.

What are the main challenges facing players in today's market?

There needs to be stronger communications between the government and the private sector in order to address major issues. Moreover, an investor needs to know where to allocate funds and what the risks are. They need data to make the best decisions. To do so, they need to invest in technology and people, and not just machinery and cars.

What is your assessment of the agri-business market in Ghana, and what opportunities do you see for investors?

It is a saturated market, with perhaps five companies competing for business, though this is a positive aspect. There are four active flour mills in Ghana, and there are those that import flour from outside. However, we need data to assess how much all companies contribute to the economy, both in terms of taxes and employment. We should not look at things on a small scale and should be more ambitious. Ghana lacks nothing. Many investors come here because they love the country and the opportunities that are available. But these investors need data, because without data how can the economy move? We have to talk about action and the best way to measure if a company is doing well or not is a standardized objective measurement.

What are your expectations for 2018?

The vision of the government is excellent, and it wants to see light at the end of the tunnel. I have confidence; however, it needs to have committed people on the ground to implement its vision. It needs to open communication channels. If we build capacity and build people, I expect good things for 2018, for example with the streamlining of operations in the harbor. The Ghana Revenue Authority should do an excellent job with more revenue to be generated, and the private sector will try as much as possible to support, not burden, the financial sector. If we want to help, we have to generate our own money as well from our export proceedings.