MiDA confident of getting second compact of MCC fund

Mr. Martin Eson-Benjamin, the Chief Executive Officer of Millennium Development Authority (MIDA), said the authority was on course to exhausting the first compact of 547 million dollars from the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Fund and confident of getting a second compact at the end of the five years.

“MiDA is on course to fully exhaust the entire programme budget within the five-year period. We shall complete our projects and, on the basis of our exemplary performance, look forward to another compact, come 2013,” he said.

Mr. Eson-Benjamin said this at an encounter with journalists in Accra, where he outlined details of completed, ongoing and earmarked projects.

He said by the end of 2009, MiDA had committed 367 million dollars representing 67 per cent of Compact Funds, out of which it had already disbursed 127 million dollars through the Bank of Ghana for projects across the country.

“Additionally about 20 per cent of the money has been used for administrative cost, so we are left with about 20 per cent more to commit within the remaining two years,” he said.

Mr. Eson-Benjamin said up to date, MiDA’s operations had not attracted any negative audit comments, saying that the authority had maintained the principles of transparency, environmental friendliness and strict monitoring and evaluation in its projects.

The MCA Funds is a US-based fund extended to Ghana and 11 other developing countries on the basis of their performance in good governance, economic freedom and investment in people.

It is a new model that allows and actually requires beneficiary countries to identify their own development priorities for achieving sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction.

Ghana started benefiting from the fund on February 16, 2007 and has therefore clocked three years with two more years to go.

Out of the 12 beneficiary countries, only Cape Verde has recently received a second compact.

Analysts say the visits of former US President George Bush and President Barack Obama to Ghana were signs of approval of Ghana’s creditable performance in the three main requirement areas, thus the country stood a great chance of getting the second compact in 2013.

Mr. Eson-Benjamin said so far the funds had gone into 12 projects under three main areas of agricultural productivity and value-added development (six projects), transport infrastructure development (three projects) and rural services development (three projects).

Small crop farmers in 30 selected districts, zoned into southern, northern and Afram Plains zones are benefiting from the programme.

Mr. Eson-Benjamin said the agricultural project had focused on transforming small-holder farmers into businessmen and women and so far 52,000 out of a targeted 60,000 had received technical and business skills training and 17,000 of them have received 230 dollars worth of starter-packs each.

The impact of the training is such that some of the farmers are now harvesting between nine to 15 bags per acre as against five bags per acre before the training from MiDA.

He said MiDA had collaborated with produce buying companies who readily purchase the produce from the farmers and pay them through their banks, making it easy for them to get loans from their bankers and improve upon their business and living standards.

“It is interesting to note that last year’s national best farmer is a MiDA farmer and some of the top winners at the regional and district levels are MiDA farmers,” he said.

Mr. Eson-Benjamin said in addition to providing the farmers starter packs, loans and avenues for marketing their produce in the country and abroad, MiDA also assisted in post-harvest handling and value-chain activities such as providing storage facilities and pre-cooling systems to protect the produce.

The main food crops under the MiDA programme are; mangoes, rice, pepper, pineapples, pawpaw and other commodities that have short gestation periods and ready market.

Mr. Eson-Benjamin said 10 irrigation dams had also been studied and earmarked for rehabilitation across the country, adding that, when ready they would irrigate at least 5,000 hectares all year round and improve investments into rice cultivation.

He said efforts were also far advanced to secure 3,000 land titles in the Awutu-Senya Districts in the Central Region and the achievement would be replicated in the northern and the Afram Plains zones.

“As part of this project we shall provide for the use of the Lands Commission, furnished and operational office in all three zones, the first was inaugurated in November 2009,” he said.

He said MiDA was also sponsoring the complete rehabilitation and modernisation of 10 circuit courts across the country to help deal with the backlog and new land cases.

Mr. Eson-Benjamin said MiDA was funding the construction of 18 private-sector managed agricultural business centres to provide ready market for the farm produce of its farmers.

MiDA has also sponsored various consultative processes towards the enactment of a Plant Act to pave the way for investment into quality seeds to improve farm yields.

The authority has also made huge investments in rural development, public procurement capacity building, constructed and rehabilitated 65 out of 534 schools earmarked for construction by the close of the five years, and are waiting to award contracts for water, electricity and road construction projects across the 30 selected districts in the country.

Source: GNA

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