Government has been called upon to formulate a policy to encourage investment into Non Traditional Export (NTE) to feed the local and international markets.
Making the call, Albert Atuah Amponsah, the Managing Proprietor of Albe Farms, producers of pineapples and vegetables, said adequate investment in the production of NTE crops and items would result in food sufficiency to ensure economy growth, create jobs for the youth and improve the standard of living.
Ghana exports yam, cassava, gari, bananas, plantain, pineapples, citrus, beans, shea nuts, textiles, and handicrafts, among other things, under the Non-Traditional Export drive that started in 1994.
Mr. Amponsah was speaking to the Ghana News Agency after participating in a three-day fruit and vegetable fair in Berlin, Germany, organised by CBI Netherlands, the centre for the promotion of imports from developing countries, which supported the Albe Farms, Ghana Federation of Exporters, and Ghana Yam Producers Association among other exhibitors to showcase their products.
It attracted more than 20,000 visitors from new markets in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America to buy fresh farm produce including pineapples, yam, cassava and mangoes on display.
Mr. Amponsah said the fair provided the farmers the opportunity to showcase their products, meet with industry partners and customers, study activities of rivals, and examine recent market trends and opportunities.
He appealed to the government to ensure the modernisation of commercial farming to help farmers increase yield and, as much as possible, add value to their produce through a value chain approach to ensure food safety before exporting to earn more income.
Mr. Amponsah called for the deepening of public-private partnerships in farming, saying; “such partnerships will help bridge the gap between the differing priorities of the government and the private sector, which in many cases, are not aligned for the same direction.”
Touching on the challenges farmers face in Ghana, he said the high cost of transportation and expensive food safety logistics were some of the financial challenges and called on government to support their initiative by lowering taxes on such logistics.
Mr. Amponsah said in spite of the challenges, the benefits farming brought to farmers could not be over emphasised and urged the youth to grab the huge opportunity agriculture offered to create jobs for themselves and others and improve their living standards.
Albe Farms has been producing and exporting pineapples, pepper and other vegetables to Europe and Asia. It employs five administrative assistants and 100 farmers, mostly out-grower farmers.