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‘Support the growth of SMEs’ - Mohammed Awal tells development partners

Aug. 29, 2017, 1:03 p.m.

The Minister for Business Development, Ibrahim Awal Mohammed, has urged the country’s development partners and investors to contribute to the growth of the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) by helping to finance their operations.

SMEs constitute about 90 percent of businesses in the country but the sector struggles to access cheap credit to develop.

Mr. Mohammed, therefore, appealed to investors and development partners like the US to consider supporting government fiscally to fund the growth of SMEs in order to create jobs for the hundreds of unemployed youth in the country.

He said government is working towards building an enabling environment that supports the growth of businesses while bringing down inflation, cost of borrowing and the cost of doing business in the country.

Mr. Mohammed was speaking at the launch of ‘Project Peanut Butter,’ a groundnut processing facility in Kumasi.

The U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Robert P. Jackson, was hopeful that the launch of the state-of-art roaster will transform lives and create opportunities for many Ghanaians.

He noted particularly that “it will enhance efforts to improve food security, incomes, and nutrition, working closely with the Ghanaian government, the private sector, and communities.”

Ambassador Jackson announced that there has been a tremendous impact in the work of the ‘Feed the Future,’ a U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative, in many focused areas in the country.

“There has been a 17 percent decrease in the prevalence of children with stunted growth in target communities. Moreover, we have helped more than 100,000 farmers to double their incomes so they can ensure their families are well educated, healthy, and thriving,” he said.

Project Peanut Butter is an NGO devoted to combatting undernutrition by producing effective ready-to-use therapeutic foods.

The groundnut processing facility was provided through a partnership between the USAID, The Hershey Company, and Rotary International.

The facility is expected to increase demand for locally grown aflatoxin-free groundnuts. Aflatoxin is a toxic carcinogen that sometimes strikes when agronomic conditions are not ideal.

This has the potential to boost Ghana’s groundnut value chain, thereby increasing incomes for Ghanaian groundnut farmers.

It is anticipated that the facility will be used to manufacture ready-to-use-therapeutic food to combat child malnutrition in Ghana and beyond.

Project Peanut Butter will use the facility to roast local Ghanaian groundnuts for ‘Vivi,’ a groundnut-based nutritional supplement the company developed that is now a key part of the Ghanaian government’s Ghana School Feeding Program.

The Hershey Company is currently providing 52,000 students with ‘ViVi’ per day.

The groundnut processing facility was made possible through USAID’s Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) Project, which is part of the United States’ Feed the Future Initiative.

In Ghana, USAID works through Feed the Future to boost the incomes of smallholder farmers, improve agricultural productivity, link farmers to markets, and improve nutrition.

With this project in place, it will enable Ghanaian farmers to sell the groundnuts they grow, without worrying about aflatoxin.

As a result, Ghana will be able to produce supplements for severely undernourished children using local groundnuts. The Hershey Company will purchase the groundnuts produced by local farmers for ‘ViVi.’

A groundnut farmer from Sisala East, in the Upper West region, Doho Sumaila, in an interview at the launch of the facility, said this latest intervention will provide a ready market for their produce and improve their acreage of farming.