The United Kingdom through the Department for International Development (DFID), has launched its £14.8 million Marketing Development Programme for Northern Ghana (MADE) project at a ceremony in Tamale on Thursday.
Spanning five years the MADE project aims at cushioning and increasing Ghana’s agricultural productivity and food security needs as well as boost investment returns and profits of farmers.
Mr Jon Benjamin, British High Commissioner to Ghana who launched the project said Britain remained very committed in seeing a transformation in the Ghana’s agricultural sector to ensure that poverty was drastically reduced.
The project seeks to up agricultural productivity through aggregators and nucleus farmers and is being implemented in 32 districts in the Savannah ecological zone with the objective of reducing poverty by scaling up agricultural growth through investments in that sector.
He suggested the need for the Government and stakeholders to make the domestic climate very favourable to the private sector such that jobs can be created through investments saying, “We will continue to develop youthful skills through DFID to assist in that direction”.
Mr Benjamin said despite the interventions being made to improve agricultural investments, there were teething challenges such as difficulty in accessing credits by farmers and high interest rates to credits and urged the financial institutions to assist the smallholder farmer to grow.
Mr Twum Akwaboah, Executive Director of the Association of Ghana Industries indicated that 71 percent of people who reside in the Northern parts of the country were into agriculture, however regardless of the agrarian nature of the area, food production was still very low.
He called for the need for a policy shift from the country’s current investments in the agricultural sector as a consistent reduction in agricultural production, has ben recorded in recent times.
“Agricultural contributions to Ghana’s GDP has declined to the lowest in recent years” he added.
Mr Akwaboah wondered why the Northern part of the country which had better climatic conditions than Burkina Faso cannot produce enough tomatoes and onions and had to import those commodities from Burkina Faso.
Mr Abubakari Abdallah, Northern Regional Minister lauded the initiative of MADE and pledged government’s commitment towards the achievement of the objectives of the project.
He said the project would provide a platform for agriculture to be commercially based to create commercial agricultural opportunities to smallholder farmers.
Dr Alhassan Yakubu, Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture said the project was in line with government’s policy of transforming the agricultural sector and urged all stakeholders to play their roles effectively for the successes of the project.