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Agric initiative will increase income levels — Dr Akoto

March 14, 2017, 3:33 p.m.

Ghana will increase agricultural productivity to international standards through the new policy initiative, “Planting for Food and Jobs”, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has said.

The initiative, he said, would take off next month and was expected to increase the income levels of farmers in rural communities, create jobs for young people and enhance food security.

At the just-ended 12th CII Exim Bank Conclave in India on the Africa Partnership Project, Dr Akoto said agricultural productivity in Ghana currently was quite low even by West African standards and required drastic measures to address imbalances and bottlenecks in the system.

The conclave was organised by the CII Exim Bank of India. The session provides the platform for the government of India and governments in Africa, as well as industry players in all the countries, to explore partnership towards enhancing growth between India and economies in Africa.

Food for jobs

Explaining the rationale behind Ghana’s renewed focus on agriculture, Dr Akoto said it would utilise $150 million Indian facility granted to Ghana last year to create mechanisation centres in all 216 districts across the country as part of measures to raise productivity.

“Under the new programme, Ghana is also introducing irrigation facilities in most farming communities in the three regions in the north of the country in accordance with the government’s one village one dam policy,” Dr Akoto told the conclave.

The minister, however, called for the immediate implementation of protocols on the facility granted to Ghana to enable the government to begin to utilise the facility for investments in agriculture.

Trade prospects

The prospects of increasing trade relations between Africa and India, the minister pointed out, were fast rising as demand for luxury foods in India was also likely to rise.

“India’s agricultural sector will have to respond by concentrating on the high value side of the market. This will create an opportunity for the agricultural sector in Africa to supply consumers in India with food items,” the minister pointed out.

Dr Akoto’s view was that guaranteeing a market for agricultural produce in Africa and improving agro-processing to add value to the goods produced would tremendously reduce poverty in agricultural communities across Africa.

“Because of the great prospects available, there is the need for closer relationship between Africa and India, especially in the area of agriculture,” he stressed.

Knowledge sharing

A representative of the government, Mr Mike Oquaye Jnr, told the Daily Graphic in an interview that reducing poverty could only become a reality, if agriculture became a viable sector in Africa.

He said joblessness and hunger among young people could compromise national security.

“If agriculture is made a prosperous venture, it will reduce threats to national security and further reduce incidents of terrorism across parts of Africa,” he said.