We’ll export $1b horticulture produce to EU market in 6 years

Ghana is projected to export about $1billion worth of horticultural produce to the European market in the next six years, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has announced.

According to him, government had instituted the necessary measures including the establishment of three greenhouse farms to ensure that the projection was attained.

“Kenya currently exports about $3billion worth of horticultural produce to the European market and I think we can do same, since we have the potential,” he added.

Dr Akoto who was taking his turn at the Meet-the-Press series organised by the Ministry of Information in Accra yesterday said the country was yet to tap into the horticulture sub-sector despite the huge potential it possessed.

The vegetables include tomatoes, chili pepper, okro, garden eggs and fruits

He said to exploit the full potential of the sector, government had put in place a number of interventions to promote horticulture in the country, stressing that “farmers who venture into it will supply to both domestic and international market.”

The Minister said some level of commercial production was currently ongoing at the three technology centres established under the Greenhouse Module being rolled by the government and the private sector could take advantage and also invest in the area.

He said government had secured the European Market through the self-regulatory measures adopted and individuals who invested in that area could take advantage of the large market outside.

“Already the three centres are producing to supply some of the bigger super markets in the country including Shoprite,” he added.

Dr Akoto said about 296 graduates had so far received training in the area of greenhouse farming and practicing the business, however, they were present to offer technical assistance and support to other individuals who were interested in that area of farming.

He said government would continue to ensure that horticultural produce exported from the country conformed to the required standards.

“When I took office, I realised that the European Union had banned horticulture produce from Ghana since 2015 due to a number of reasons including non-compliance to standards but we managed to negotiate for the ban to be lifted. As a result, we have put in place the necessary measures to ensure that we do not slump into such situation again,” he emphasised.

Touching on the successes of the implementation of government’s flagship agriculture programmes, he said the Planting for Food and Job (PFJ) contributed to the overall decline of food prices by 20 per cent in 2019.

The decline, he said, had a corresponding effect on the year on year inflation, decreasing from 9.7 per cent in 2016 to 7.2 per cent  in 2019 with a positive impact on the overall inflation.

On the global food security index which considered affordability, availability and quality of food across 113 countries, Ghana was placed at the 59th position in 2019, an improvement over its 2016 position of 79.

Similarly, he said the country placed third in sub-Sahara coming after just South Africa and Botswana.

Dr Akoto said government was pursuing an aggressive mechanisation in the agriculture sector and it would continue to offer the necessary support that would boost agriculture in the country.

BY CLIFF EKUFUL

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