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World Bank pledges more support for agric sector

The World Bank Group (WBG) Vice President for Africa, Dr Hafez Ghanem, has pledged the bank’s commitment to continue to support agriculture to help reduce poverty in the country.

He said agriculture held the key in addressing poverty in the country and providing jobs for the teeming unemployed youth.

Dr Ghanem made the pledge when he visited some World Bank funded projects in Ghana under the $60-million West Africa Agriculture Productivity Project (WAAPP) in the Greater Accra and Volta regions on Wednesday as part of his three-day visit to Ghana.

The five-year project, which started in 2013 and ended in 2017, was funded by the World Bank to improve agriculture productivity in West Africa.

Some of the projects Dr Ghanem visited were the Rosh Pinnah Farms at Natriku in the Dangme West District and the VEGPRO Ghana Limited at Fodzoku in the North Tongu District in the Volta Region.

Rosh Pinnah Farms, a co-operative of women farmers, under the WAAPP, had been provided with five Green Houses estimated at $43,000 to help the farmers engage in all-year-round farming and increase their production.

VEGPRO Ghana Limited, a Kenya-based company which produces baby corn (a soft cob without maize) for export to the European markets, on the other hand, had received funding from World Bank to increase the company’s production.

As part of the tour, the WBG Vice President for Africa visited the Akosombo Power Plant to acquaint himself with the operations of the Volta River Authority, the operator of the power generating plant.

Dr Ghanem in his remarks said the WBG, whose mission is to help eradicate poverty in the world, would support projects and programmes aimed at alleviating poverty in the country.

He said, he was impressed and excited about the impact the Rosh Pinnah Farms was having on women in the Natriku community.

The WBG Vice President said his outfit through the WAAPP would provide additional five Green Houses to the Rosh Pinnah Farms to increase production on the farm so that more women could be engaged.

Dr Ghanem commended management of VEGPRO Ghana Limited for contributing to job creation and attracting more foreign exchange to Ghana through the exports of the company’s products.

The Executive Director of Rosh Pinnah Foundation, Dr Florence Vanderpuye said the idea for the Rosh Pinnah Farms formed part of his PhD programme.

She said the objective of the farm was to introduce women who have not had formal education to modern technological farming to prove that illiterate women could also adopt modern technologies for farming.

Dr Vanderpuye said currently, the farm employed 20 women and they could produce 50 kilogrammes of vegetables such as tomato and cucumber a week, which is below the market demand of 200 kilogrammes per week.

The Executive Director said the provision of additional Green Houses to the farm would enable the farm to engage more women on the farm.

The General Manager of VEGPRO Ghana Limited, Gareth Wilkie said his outfit was currently cultivating 360 hectares of baby corn.

He said the company, which has a workforce of 400, was able to export 14 tonnes of baby corn per week.

FROM KINGSLEY ASARE, NATRIKU

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