The year’sedition of the International Coconut Festival has been marked in Accra with a call on industry players to help promote and develop the coconut industry while making it a significant reliable revenue source.
Organised by Africa Coconut Group in collaboration with Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA),the festival was onthe theme ‘Repositioning Ghana’s Coconut Sector for Accelerated Industrialisation’.
It is aimed at providing exposure to businesses involved in the production and processing of coconut, and showcase innovations to attract local and foreign direct investment.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), DrOwusuAfriyieAkoto, in a speech read on his behalf, said coconut was one of the tree crops that the Ministry was promoting under its Food and Agriculture Development Policy.
He said the sector had been identified by the government as a major driver of the economy into the next decades based on the economic potential of the crop, including food security, environmental protection and poverty alleviation.
The Minister said the growing interest in the health benefits of coconut and its value-added products had resulted in a growing demand for its consumption alongside its various industrial uses.
“Global emerging trends in the coconut industry point towards value addition and taking advantage of this, countries such as Indonesia, Philippines, India and others have either transformed or are transforming their economies through value addition to coconut,” he added.
Dr Afriyie Akoto said in the questto reposition the coconut sub-sector for Accelerated industrialisation, government through MoFA had instituted a number of policies, strategies and programmes in its Medium-Term Investment Framework (MTEF) to provide enabling environment for growth, job creation and prosperity for all.
He urged the Tree Crops Development Authority and all its stakeholders to work together to overcome the challenges confronting the sub-sector to enable it contribute significantly to the country’s economy.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kyeremanten, said his outfit remained resolute in its support of the coconut sector as it adopts a multi-faceted approach to augment production through agencies such as the Ghana Export Promotion Authority, who since 2017 had distributed about 600,000 disease -tolerant coconut seedlings to organised groups and associations.
He called for existing institutional synergies to strengthenand promote the coconut sector, especially when it currently employed close to 360,000 persons along the value chain.
The Chief Executive Officer of GEPA, Ms Afua Asabea Asare, said GEPA’s 2021 Non-Traditional Export Statistics raked in $11.44 million while coconut oil earned Ghana $6.99 million in export earnings representing 132 per cent and 33 per cent increase respectively over the 2020 figures.
“This tells us that with a lot more strategic aggression in the promotion of more derivatives of coconut, we can gain a lot more ground,” she added.
The Chairman of African Coconut Group, Mr Davies Narh Korboe, for his part expressed the Group’s continuous collaboration to stimulate trade and investment in the agri-food sector in Ghana in order to improve productivity and value as well as job creation.
BY VIVIAN ARTHUR