Agric contribution to Ghana’s economic growth significant despite oil find – Minister

Kwesi Ahwoi – Agric Minister

The contribution of agriculture to the country’s economic growth continues to be significant, despite Ghana’s oil find.

“For the country to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), such as the eradication of poverty and hunger, Government is taking steps to increase agricultural production, food security and income,” Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister of Food and Agriculture, said this at the Third National Farmers’ Forum, held in Accra on Monday.

The forum on the theme: “Grow More Food: Strengthening Farmer Based Organisations for Market Place Bargaining Power,” was to herald the 28th National Farmer’s Day Celebration, which comes off on November 2nd 2012 at Abokobi, in the Greater Accra Region.

Mr Ahwoi said the strategy for the development of the Agricultural sector in Ghana, hinged on the Medium Term Agricultural Investment Plan (METASIP), which runs from 2011 to 2015.

The Minister said under the plan, the government sought to expand irrigation infrastructure, subsidize fertilizer and seed cost, encourage the youth to take on farming as a profession among several others.

He said the most important resource for “this task is our farmers.”

Mr. Ahwoi noted that if farmers were assisted to have easy access to information on best practices, and building their capacities, their production and incomes would in effect also be increased.

He said one effective way of “achieving these” was through facilitating the establishment of sustainable Farmer Co-operatives or Farmer Based Organizations.

Speaking on the theme for this year’s Farmer’s Day Celebration: “Grow More Food: Strengthening Farmer Based Organizations For Market Place Bargaining Power,” he said it reflects the role Farmer Based Organizations (FBO) are playing in agricultural production in the country.

He said the importance of FBOs as economic development institutions within the country, had led to the government developing a policy to promote FBOs, register and train 5,658 active FBOs in Enterprise Development, among several others.

Mr. Ahwoi cited some good works of FBOs as the Rubber Out Growers and Agents Association in the Western Region, which had built their own office and were able to negotiate competitive prices for their members.

He also mentioned the Ejisu-Juaben Pig Farmers Association, which had trained members, given soft loans to members and even non-members, and provided three bore-holes for their community.

The Minister said there was a general consensus that the production of small holder farmers would increase if farmers came together for easy access to inputs, training and market linkages, among others.

“It is therefore the policy of the government to continue supporting the development and strengthening of Farmer Based Organizations, as a means of supporting farmers to become more competitive, cost effective in their operations and have stronger bargaining power in the market place,” said Mr. Ahwoi.

The forum was organized by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

Source: GNA

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