A weeklong event aimed at increasing awareness and knowledge about organic agriculture is underway in Accra.
Dubbed, “The 5th West African Organic Agriculture Conference “ , is expected to bring together about 300 participants from West Africa to share knowledge about the organic sector and develop ideas on how to grow the industry.
A speech read on behalf of the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, said the conference was timely and was in line with the government’s policy and efforts to promote sustainable agriculture to address the issues and impact of climate change and food security, and ensure good health and wellbeing.
He indicated that the ministry under the Sustainable Land and Water Management Programme being implemented in collaboration with Ministry of Environment Science and Technology and the Food and Agriculture Organisation FAO, among other partners, was already addressing some of the challenges in the agricultural sector.
The Minister said the “programme covers and addresses topics such as research, innovative technologies, market and business, inputs, policies and information sharing among actors along the organic agriculture value chain.”
Dr Akoto was of the view that organic agriculture would fast-track the attainment of the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda, and policies and programmes such as Planting for Food and Jobs, Rearing for Food and Jobs, Planting for Export and Rural Development and Greenhouse Villages for Development among others incorporate the principles and practices Ecological Organic Agriculture.
In Ghana, he stated that, there was an increasing effort to promote organic agriculture among the different stakeholders, explaining that in response to demands from the sector, the Ministry had since 2006 established the Organic Desk within the Directorate of Crop Services to liaise with stakeholders to facilitate the development of the sector.
The Minister said efforts were being made to strengthen the local organic market with the implementation of the Participatory Guarantee System and ensure that many farmers would adopt these practices to improve on their productivity and profitability.
Dr Ernest Aubee, Heads of Agriculture Division, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), said ecological agriculture provide an avenue for the ECOWAS region to address the challenges of food and nutrition security in a sustainable inclusive in West Africa.
“If the region would benefit from the opportunities provided by Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA ) globally, we must come together and address challenges which includes the lack of adequate financial support, organic infrastructure and facilities, limited private sector involvement, lack of technology among others,” he said
Dr Elke Stumpf, Head of Programme, Market Oriented Agriculture Programme (MOAP), stated that the conference would afford organic sector stakeholders in the country and the rest of West Africa the opportunity to improve production skills and techniques.
This she noted would increase production inputs and suppliers to profitably meet market demands, and observed that organic agriculture was important to human and social health of communities, thus underscored the need to sustain its production.
The President of Ecological Organic Agriculture Platform-Ghana (EOAP-G). Dr De Fenzy Sodza Cchandorf, said the conference would work towards realising the declaration by the African Union for all member states to mainstream ecological organic practices into national policies.
BY AGNES OPOKU SARPONG