Ghana’s non-traditional exports has prospects – Agric Minister

Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister of Agriculture, on Monday expressed confidence that Ghana’s non-traditional exports would increase if gains made in establishing quality post-harvest infrastructure, under the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) programme, would be sustained.

Speaking at the inauguration of a public pack house, an infrastructure for cooling and storing pineapples, at Mariakrom in the Akuapem-South Municipality of the Eastern Region, the Minister said the project would attract and retain the youth in agriculture, particularly horticultural farming.

Mr Ahwoi was in the company of government delegation and executive directors and administrators of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and Millennium Development Authority (MiDA), the implementing and accountable entity for the MCA.

He expressed dissatisfaction that the country’s non-traditional export earnings plummeted after admirable gains in 2004 and since the decline, Ghana had not been able to significantly increase her export volumes.

Mr Ahwoi expressed the hope that the 50 metre-square pack storage facility would guarantee good quality produce to meet the standards of the high-end market, increase incomes for small holders and exporters as well as increase packing efficiency of the pineapple produce.

According to recent reports, Ghana’s leading horticultural product, fresh-cut pineapple, has suffered a steep decline in export and income over the past half-decade.

Since 2004, pineapple export volumes have dropped from a peak of 71,000 tonnes to about 29,000 tonnes in 2009, a decline of over 59 per cent.

Reasons attributed to the poor performance over the years, included a drop in Ghana’s competitiveness due to an increased cost of production, caused by high costs of imported raw materials, and production inputs, low production volumes of key produce due to local producers’ inability to supply the quantities required by industry, and for export as well as short term, high interest credit facilities from the financial institutions.

Ms Hanna Tetteh, Minister of Trade and Industry, called on local farmers to take advantage of the economic prospects the project presented and to form organizations to enable them to better access credit from the now-established Export and Agriculture Development Investment Fund.

She praised the Government of the United States of America for providing the MCA grant.

Dr Kwasi Akyem Appeah-Kubi, Eastern Regional Minister, called on operators in the private sector enterprises to invest in agriculture and non-traditional export sector.

He said he was hopeful the project would empower local farmers to engage fully in pineapple plantation, particularly the MD2 fruit variety, and to attract the youth to agriculture.

Mr Daniel W. Yohannes, Chief Executive Officer of the MCC, applauded the efforts of the Ghana Government to ensure the successful execution of the MCA compact and that the country had proven to be worthy of MCC partnership.

He expressed satisfaction that the beneficiary and prospective farmers would make use of the facilities to enhance their economic status.

By virtue of funds from the MCA, the pack house has been refurbished and equipped with modern packing line and cooling facility to the tune of 1.4 million dollars for use by exporters and farmers’ groups in the district.

Improved road networks, funded through the MCA, as well as connection to the national grid have been provided to ease the transportation of fresh pineapples for exports with attendant benefits for the rural folks, social and business activities.

The inauguration forms part of activities MiDA has undertaken to inspect projects and to formerly hand them over to appropriate authorities.

The $547,009,000 United States Government-sponsored five-year MCA compact is a pro-poor performance-based and results-driven programme, which started on February 15, 2007 to reduce poverty through economic growth in Ghana.

The objective was to increase production and productivity of high-value cash and food staple crops, and to enhance the competitiveness of Ghana’s high-value cash and food crops at both local and international markets.

Ghana signed the compact on Tuesday, August 1, 2006 with the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a representative of the US Government, and it would end on February 16, 2012.

The programme was implemented under three key activities: agriculture, transportation and rural development projects.

Source: GNA

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.