Speaking at the inaugural ceremony ceremony at Kumasi in the Ashanti region, the President emphasized that Government’s strategy was to promote tree crops, apart from cocoa, with equal or even higher economic potential.
He said the TCDA, to be headquartered in Kumasi, was a legal and institutional outcome of the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) programme, and would focus on the development of tree crops and lead the plan to diversify the country’s agriculture.
The PERD programme was launched in April last year to expand Ghana’s capacity to earn foreign exchange from agricultural exports. It focuses on the development of selected export tree crops, namely cashew, coffee, oil palm, coconut, mango and rubber.
“To kick start the implementation of PERD, seven tree crops namely mango, cashew, shea, rubber, cocoa, oil palm and coffee have been identified and selected for promotion under the programme, six of which are directly under the supervision of the Authority.
“I am hopeful that, sooner than later, coffee will also be brought under the direct supervision of the Authority,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo stated that the Authority would operate like COCOBOD, and put in place policies and programmes to guide research, production, pricing and marketing of the six tree crops.
He said if the economic potential of the six selected tree crops were properly harnessed, Ghana could soon increase exponentially her agricultural export earnings.
The Preident disclosed that some 220,257 farmers had so far enrolled onto the PERD programme, whilst 235,850 hectares of land have been cultivated, with a total of thirty million seedlings of the various crops produced to be distributed to farmers and interested persons.
“At full implementation, the PERD programme will link agriculture to industry through the provision of a solid raw material base for industrialisation, develop our rural economies, and assist in the structural transformation of the national economy. All these will propel growth, create employment, particularly for the youth, and the creation of wealth,” the President added.
The 29-member Board of Directors of the Authority is chaired by Mr. Stephen Sekyere-Abankwa. The Management team of the TCDA include the Chief Executive, William Quaitoo, and his two Deputies, Mr Yaw Osei Oteng, in charge of Finance and Administration, and Mr Foster Boateng, in charge of Operations.
President Akufo-Addo assured the Members of the Authority that government was making systematic efforts to secure funding for the upgrading of the relevant research institutions to assist in the effective development of the sector.
“The over-arching vision of a Ghana Beyond Aid is neither rhetoric nor gimmickry. We are determined, through action, to achieve this vision, and today’s programme is a clear indication of our total commitment. With God on our side, we shall surely succeed,” he added.