Kukua Asamoah/Emmanuel Donkor, GNA
Accra, March 13, GNA - Dr Gyiele Naruh, the Minister of State in charge of Agriculture, on Tuesday said the Government was leading efforts at balancing agriculture production with value addition to spearhead the attainment of a Ghana beyond Aid.
He said the agriculture value added percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Ghana, as reported by the World Bank for 2016, was 19.6 per cent and that was not good enough for a well-endowed nation like Ghana.
He said the Government had, therefore, rolled out a critical programme like the Planting for Food and Jobs, a flagship policy that was changing the face of agricultural production in the country.
Dr Nura said this at media briefing and event launch of the Value Added Agriculture Expo West Africa in Accra, to be held in Ghana from August 2 to 4, 2018.
Dr Nurah said through the Planting for Food and Jobs Programme that was started last year with a seed capital of GHȼ560 million, close to 200,000 farmers had been empowered by providing them with fertilisers, improved seeds and other farming inputs.
“We have created 745,000 jobs in just a little over one year of the programme. These jobs, from our research findings, were in the areas of input supply, farm level production, post-harvest activities including storage, marketing and processing, and the distribution of the output,” he said.
He said the Programme, which was very dear to the heart of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, would help address the declining growth of the agricultural sector, with the ultimate goal of getting Ghanaians to embrace it as a full-time business.
Dr Nurah said Ghana also needed to stop shipping valuable raw materials accruing next to nothing adding; “We must develop value chains that will make all the difference in our earning from the rich resources of our land. And the time to begin is now.”
“This is the only way to go if we really want to increase the market value of agricultural products, feed ourselves and create more jobs,” he said.
He welcomed the Expo, saying it would bring the best in the industry to the limelight, create a good platform for exchange and networking among industry players, and offer the opportunity to foster business relationships and partnerships.
Dr Nurah said the introduction of modern technology had also been acknowledged as a very important factor in doubling productivity, which would help bring a lasting turn-around result in the country’s agriculture sector.
The Expo, the first to be held in West Africa, would be the largest exhibition, promoting “farm to fork” solutions in value added agriculture and aquaculture.
Reed Exhibition, a UK-based event organiser, with an office in South Africa, is collaborating with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the other sponsors to host the exhibition in Ghana.
The event would cover the full value chain in agriculture business, showcasing input, livestock care solutions to farmers and agro processing best practices to increase the production ratio to input.
Mr Ron Strikker, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, platinum sponsors of the exhibition, commended the Government of Ghana for according high priority to the agriculture sector.
He said the initiatives including the Planting for Food and Jobs campaign, placing agriculture in a prominent position in the 2018 Budget, as well as the upcoming Marshall Plan for the sector were great examples.
“The Netherlands strongly supports this, and as one of the world’s leaders in agriculture, we have a lot to offer, knowledge, technology and innovation,” Mr Strikker said.
He expressed the hope that the exhibition would help bring the needed transformation of Ghana’s agriculture in a modern and dynamic base of the economy, making it attractive for entrepreneurs and investors and providing jobs for its teeming youth.
Ms Adele Eloff, Africa Manager of Reed Exhibitions, said the show, which would be an annual event in Ghana, would bring together all the major players offering products and services to the industry.
This is to take the agricultural sector to the next level, since value addition is key to every country to ensure the right growth for the sector, Ms Eloff said.
Other sponsors of the programme include Interplast, Barclays Bank, and Mel Consulting firm.