US invests $145 million in Ghana to aid economy - Ambassador
MR Robert Jackson, United States of America (US) Ambassador to Ghana, has said that the US government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has invested $145 million in Ghana to aid socio-economic transformation.
He said more than half of the amount was being invested in the northern parts of the country alone in the areas of agriculture, health and education, with the aim of bridging the development gap between the northern and southern parts of the country.
Mr Jackson was interacting with the media in Tamale in the Northern Region as part a two-day official tour of the area, where he inspected the various USAID-funded projects under its “Feed the Future Initiative”.
The Feed the Future Initiative is a US global food security and poverty-reduction intervention through the development of high-yielding seeds to boost commercial agriculture involving small-holder farmers, especially women in rural communities.
In Ghana, the USAID is the lead US agency implementing the initiative to support agricultural research to bring cutting-edge technologies, including high yielding seed varieties in legumes and cereals to farmers in the Northern Region, to increase their on-farm yields and improve their incomes.
The Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and other private initiatives are the institutions which have benefited from investments to spearhead the development of high-yielding seed varieties in maize, cow-pea and soybean.
The Ambassador inaugurated one such state-of-the-art seed laboratories in the Tamale Metropolis, built for the production of high quality, hybrid and high-yielding seeds for Haile Mariam Desalegn farmers.
He expressed satisfaction about the field visits, stressing that the US through the USAID would continue to invest significantly in the northern part of the country to reduce poverty and improve the standard of living of the people.
Mr Jackson, in the course of the media discourse, assured Ghanaians that the US government was very committed to see Ghana come out of the 2016 polls peacefully and united, noting that the country has held successful general elections since 1992 and this year’s would not be different.
He allayed fears about the two Guantanamo Bay detainees who had been brought into the country, assuring that they were under tight security and are harmless.
Dr Ahmed Yakubu, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture commended the USAID for initiating laudable projects, including Feed the Future Initiative.
He said improved seeds would significantly transform the country’s agricultural productivity and sustain the food basket of the northern part of the country, and appealed to the USAID to assist in a total transformation of Ghana’s agriculture.
Mr Michael Dockrey, Chief of Party of the Feed the Future project of the USAID, said the project is investing $22 million to improve agricultural productivity for small-holder farmers in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions of Ghana.
He noted that the project was introducing new farming technologies to improve crop yield and has been assisting over 500,000 farmers annually, most of whom were women, stressing that the capacity of women agriculturists needed to be boosted.
Mr Dockrey indicated that water provision was key to the project’s successes, and as such has been assisting some farming communities to get irrigation facilities for dry season farming, adding, “This is the surest way to bring food security to Ghana”.
In a related development, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on Thursday presented three Toyota Hilux pick-up vehicles and 41 desktop computers to the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), at Tamale in the Northern Region of Ghana.
The vehicles and office equipment were donated to improve the effectiveness of SARI’s agricultural research efforts in northern Ghana, and to ensure small-holder farmers’ access to quality seeds and technologies.
“The vehicles will give SARI additional mobility to reach even more communities in the north, and the new equipment will strengthen their ability to conduct quality agricultural research,” stated Ambassador Jackson at the handing over.
“We are fully committed to working with SARI to drive long-term economic growth in the region”, he added.
SARI is one of 13 institutes of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Institute (CSIR), located in the Tolon District of the Northern Region of Ghana.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this news report do not necessarily reflect the position of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC)