The Northern Development Authority (NDA) is finalising a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement to undertake cultivation of grass for export to earn substantial revenue, Dr Abdel-Majeed Haroun, Chief Executive Officer of NDA has announced.
He said “I have quite a few partners, who have expressed interest. Once we clear the PPP arrangements or the land arrangements, they will come and then each of them will be a nucleus and they will help out-growers to cultivate the grass.
He mentioned stylosanthes, centrosema and guinea grass as the types of grasses to be cultivated under the initiative, which sought to put the vast lands in the northern part of the country into production to create jobs and improve incomes of farmers.
Dr Haroun announced this when making a presentation on “Development Opportunities and Challenges in Northern Ghana” at an inception workshop held in Tamale as part of the Resilience Against Climate Change (REACH) – Social Transformation Research (STR) project.
The project, being implemented in the northern part of the country from 2019 to 2025, will undertake STR and policy advocacy on migration, youth and social transformation to achieve more inclusive and sustainable economic growth policy and programming in the country.
REACH-STR is a European Union (EU) funded project, which is being implemented by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in partnership with University for Development Studies, University of Ghana – Centre for Migration Studies, and Science and Technology Policy Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
Dr Haroun said “generally, the grasses that are natural to Ghana are also natural to animals” hence the initiative to cultivate grasses in commercial quantities to sell to countries such as Saudi Arabia and Singapore that did not have the land to grow grass.
The global hay/forage trade in 2018 was worth almost 40 billion dollars as the grasses were bought to feed cattle for their meat and milk.
The NDA, therefore, targets to capture at least 1000th of the global hay/forage trade so that it can make at least $40 million annually just by growing and selling grass.
Dr Haroun said “Let us turn what seems to be a disadvantage to us such as spraying to kill the grass by rather cultivating the grass to sell and make money because there are areas in the world where they cannot grow grass; Saudi Arabia, Singapore”.
He responded to the issue of rampant bush burning, which could be a major setback to the initiative saying “when somebody has a value in something, they will not burn it” adding “We can do controlled bush fires by canaling the grass fields”.
Mr Mohammed Tiyumtaba Shaibu, Principal Technologist at CSIR – Animal Research Institute (ARI) lauded the initiative saying CSIR-ARI did some research work on forage, which showed that it was a viable venture to grow grass for animals.
Mr Shaibu called for collaboration between CSIR-ARI and NDA to undertake the initiative to ensure success.