The SWAPP and Access to Finance is a component of the regional programme being implemented by Solidaridad West Africa, a-not-for-profit organisation, and supported by funding from the Dutch government to accelerate the development of a larger and more productive oil palm sector.
Launching it, the Minister of State in charge of Finance and Allied Institutions, Mr Fiifi Kwetey, said Ghana’s economy is largely agriculture-based and there is the need to entice the youth to venture into it through a change in mind set.
He said lack of knowledge about seedlings use and best organisation practices are some of the challenges facing the sector.
Mr Kwetey urged the private sector and non-governmental agencies to come together to help improve the agricultural sector, particularly the oil palm industry.
He said the challenges faced by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are far more than lack of finances, but rather the adaptation of the best practices and the need for the players to be creative.
Mr Kwetey expressed the hope that the programme would go a long way to improve the oil palm industry.
Mr Delle Kpebesaan, Regional Manager of the Programme, told a media conference that the two-year programme is to enable farmers to adopt best agronomic practices to boost production to meet the huge demand for oil palm.
Ghana is a net importer of 70,000 tonnes of oil palm annually to supplement limited domestic supply.
Mr Kpebesaan said the programme is also targeted at the youth to entice them to see the oil palm sector as a productive venture for a life time business.
He said the main aim of the incubator and finance programme is to encourage more capital to flow into the sector by the risk capital investments, improving expected returns and raising awareness.
Ms Kosi Yankey, Agri-business Incubator Specialist, said the SWAPP incubator and access to finance is open to oil palm farmers, mill operators, and input supplies through a transparent and competitive selection criterion.
SWAPP’s goal is to increase the productivity and profitability of SMEs, she said, adding that the programme impact is to reach more than 1,000 small holder farmers within the period.
“SWAPP’s goal is to increase the productivity and profitability of small to medium scale enterprises, farms and mills in the oil palm sector initially in Ghana, and thereafter, replicated in other West African countries,” Ms Yankey added.