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Public-Private partnership needed in the horticulture sector – Minister

Mr George Oduro, the Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, has called for a Public-Private Partnership to improve on the horticulture sector in the country.

Mr Oduro, who was speaking at the Hortifresh Business Platform Meeting in Accra, said the partnership would sustain and increase the gains made over the years.

The meeting, organised quarterly, is to bring together key service providers, producers, traders, wholesalers and retailers in the fruits and vegetable sector of the country.

This year’s event was held under the theme: “Domestic Standards and Export Requirements for the Horticulture Sector.”

It also explored business opportunities in the domestic and export market, looking at new crops, processing and alternative marketing arrangements.

He said over the last four years, GhanaVeg, which preceded the Hortifresh programme, made some significant impact on the vegetable landscape of the country.

He said “this include the training of agronomists to support the sector development.”

The Deputy Minister said 29 companies were supported to implement various projects around the entire value-chain, while working with the research institutions to address some of the sector challenges.

Mr Oduro said the Ministry is committed in ensuring that food safety and phyto-sanitary standards were improved through the compliance with existing regulations and guidelines.

He said the rapidly changing demands of the middles income class and the increasingly strict conditions of the EU, necessitated a new way of doing business for business for fruit and vegetable growers.

“This includes conscious production practices, with respect to pest and disease and postharvest management that together improve consumer confidence and can increase revenues for farmers,” he said.

Mr Ron Strikker, the Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, said vegetable was the food for the future and it is the best instrument to fight climate change.

He said the Netherlands government in its new approach wants to grow with the Government of Ghana in all sectors of the economy, hence the support to the agriculture sector, especially the horticulture sector.

He called on government to set up a horticulture development authority to oversee the development of the sector.

Mrs Sheila Assibey-Yeboah, the Programme Manager of HortiFresh, said the new core activities of the new HortiFresh programme was to support innovative business ideas of small and medium enterprises, encouraging more youth participation in the horticulture sector, and developing strong horticulture clusters in those hotspots of tomato, onion and mango production.

She said the programme supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands has prioritized commercial agriculture in its strategic plan of moving from aid to trade.

She said the programme’s mission is to establish “a sustainable and internationally competitive fruit and vegetable sector that contributes to inclusive economic growth, food and nutrition security” in Ghana and Ivory Coast.

“The programme aims to reach 15,000 farmers and increase their productivity by 20 per cent by 2021,” she added.

She said the programme consists of two components: fruits and vegetables and in Ghana, attention would be given to the fruit and vegetable sectors, while focusing on other regional fruit supply chain dimensions in the surrounding countries like Ivory Coast.

Source: GNA

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