The Ghana Association of Agriculture Economists (GAAEs) on Wednesday held its 3rd annual conference in Accra to strengthen ties among stakeholders aimed at advancing the agricultural sector.
The event was organised by the Southern Zone of GAAEs and the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, University of Ghana (UG), Legon in partnership with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) on the theme: ‘Sustainable Agriculture for National Development: Finance, Markets and Job Creation’.
Speaking at the conference, Dr Afriyie Owusu Akoto, the Minister of MoFA, said the issue of agriculture sustainability in the country resonated with the ideals of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030, the African Union Agenda 2063, the country’s national development framework and the president’s vision of a Ghana Beyond Aid.
Dr Akoto said that MoFA had put measures in place to develop selected tree crops to the level of cocoa as alternative strategy to raise additional foreign exchange of about $12 billion, based on a projection of $2 billion on each crop as in the case of cocoa.
He added that in pursuance of this, the government was in the process of establishing a Tree Crop Authority, under private sector management, in line with international best practice.
“The corporate entity to be established will have the mandate of regulating and developing the tree crop sector, a bill to that effect is currently under consideration by Parliament,” he disclosed.
Dr Akoto stated that the absence of committed leadership, lack of prioritisation of agriculture, and the weak political commitment to tackle the problems of Ghana’s agriculture over the years, had resulted in the failure of successive development strategies formulated by different governments to address the problems of agriculture in the country.
He added that there was an urgent need to tackle the problems affecting agriculture if the desire to transform agriculture was to be realised.
Dr Akoto said Planting for Food and Jobs, the government’s flagship programme, was conceived as a logical response to the problems of the sector and the beginning of a transformation agenda.
He described the transformation agenda as being inspired by the vision of the President and strong conviction that agriculture constituted the springboard to economic prosperity.
“Many other interventions are driving the resurgence of Ghana’s agriculture under the government of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo,” he added.
“Ghana’s agriculture has been characterised by underdeveloped value chains, inadequate processing and storage capacity, low assess to agriculture financing, high post harvest losses, low mechanisation and poor marketing infrastructure,” he highlighted.
Professor Felix Ankomah Asante, the President of GAAE and the Director, Institute of Statistical, Social and Economists (ISSER), said agriculture for national development was an increasingly important development issue particularly in Africa.
“It is widely recognised that Africa faces major challenges in overcoming the myriad of environmental, economic and social problems to reduce poverty and improve human living conditions, especially in the rural areas where the majority of people live and are engaged in agriculture,” he explained.
Prof. Asante said GAAE would continue to find practical ways to enhance the resilience of farmers in Ghana and address some of the imminent challenges facing the country’s agriculture development to promote sustainable agricultural development initiatives at the national level.
BY EVANGEL KELVIN AINOO