Poverty reduction project launched for Ekumfi District

BY: Isaac Yeboah

Mr Sarpong planting one of the improved organic sugarloaf pineapple plants to launch the programme at Ekumfi Essarkyir while some guests at the launch look onA GH¢1.2 million poverty reduction project using the cultivation of pineapple as a major stimulant for economic growth in the Ekumfi District has been launched at Essarkyir in the Central Region.
The two-year project will assist 277 small-holder farmers in the district to cultivate an acre of pineapples each and also create access to the export market.

The project, which targets 200 women and 77 men, is a partnership between the Central Regional Development Commission (CEDECOM) and the Japanese government through the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Pineapple growing has been identified as the preoccupation and life blood of the people of the Ekumfi District, which is endowed with land that supports the cultivation of the crop.

However, pineapple growers face challenges, resulting in a situation where many of them have become poor.

 Although most of the farms are owned by men, women are mostly engaged to work on the farms.

Besides, most of the farmers are constrained by the unavailability of capital to cultivate the crop on a large-scale, despite the fact that they own large tracts of land suitable for the cultivation of the crop.

The industry is also saddled with other challenges, including pest infestation and the unavailability of a ready market, leading to huge post-harvest losses and low pricing of the crop and contributing to chronic poverty among the people.

In an address at the launch of the project, the acting Chief Executive Officer of CEDECOM, Mr Spencer Taylor, said the project was aimed at expanding and improving organic sugarloaf pineapple cultivation in order to reduce poverty in the Ekumfi District.

He said the intervention was also meant to create awareness to stimulate high economic growth in the district and its environs.

The Central Regional Minister, Mr Samuel Sarpong, said the region could not be described as poor in the midst of the available and unutilised resources.

He asked the people to take advantage of the project to improve their lot and shake off poverty in the area.

A Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Nii Lante Vanderpuje, said the ministry would continue to support agro-based industries to create value-chain products for both local consumption and export.

A representative of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Francis Mensah, commended the Japanese government for the grant to support pineapple cultivation, which he said contributed significantly to the country’s non-traditional export.

Mr Christopher D. Nuoyel, the Programme Officer of Jica, Ghana Office, said the Japanese government provided assistance in pineapple cultivation in the area between 1986 and 1989 when a Japanese volunteer was posted to Ekumfi Atwaa to assist farmers in the cultivation of the crop.

The acting President of the Ekumfi Traditional Council, Nana Imprem VII, who chaired the function, said a parcel of land had been acquired at Ekumfi Eyisam to build a processing plant to add value to the crop and boost its cultivation to improve the socio-economic conditions of the people.

Story: Joe Okyere, Ekumfi Essarkyir/graphic.com.gh