Upper East too rich to be poor

BY: Graphic.com.gh

Although statistics have shown over the years that the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions have the highest levels of poverty in the country, that is a fallacy, and we believe the situation can be turned around.

The Upper East Region, for instance, does not have to continue to wallow in poverty, as riches abound in the area.

The region has great agricultural potential, a vibrant craft industry, attractive tourist sites, human resource, good schools, industrial and mineral resources, among other potential, and seeped in rich history that cannot be recounted in one breath, the people no longer have to accept that they are poor, for which reason nothing can be done to reverse the situation.

Apart from the much-needed investment in the region’s resources, the people of the area need to know the treasures on which they are literally sitting in order to market its potential, so that they derive the maximum benefits from nature’s blessings to them.

Tourist attractions such as the Tongo Hills, the Tengzug Shrine, the Whistling Rocks, the mud mini Basilica, the Pwikoro Slave Camp, the famed Paga Crocodile Pond, just to name a few, which have actually put the Upper East Region on the world tourism map, are gold mines waiting to be fully exploited for the benefit of its people and the country.

Indeed, the fact that the Tongo Hills and the Tengzug Shrine have been proposed as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage sites tells a lot about the untapped riches of the region.

According to the Daily Graphic publication on the sites on November 6, 2021, the two places have won several awards, including the Visitor Attraction of the Year Award in 2005 by the Upper East Regional branch of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) and the Site for Exemplary Traditional Cultural Preservation in 2001.

Students from across the world, renowned researchers, anthropologists, archaeologists and people from academia continue to troop to the sites for both academic and research purposes.

What more proof do we need that the Upper East Region is sitting on riches it could tap for its holistic development and create livelihoods for its citizens, who continue to troop to the southern part of the country to look for non-existent jobs.

We, therefore, find it very refreshing that the current Regional Minister, Mr Stephen Yakubu, has indicated that his main aim is to market the region’s potential for its speedy development.

Apart from the fact that the region is a touristic gold mine, he said, most of the districts in the region had some gold deposits and the best guinea fowls, water melons and onions in the country.

There are also the White and the Black Volta rivers, in addition to fertile land, all of which could be harnessed for the well-being of the region and its people.

Also, aside from the dug outs and the dams located in various parts of the region, the Tono, the Vea, the Tamne and the ongoing Pwalugu Multi-purpose dams make the region the best for agricultural investment, where all-year-round commercial farming could be embarked upon to feed the entire country and for export.

Figures available at the Department of Agriculture indicate that irrigation schemes, such as the Tono, Vea and Tamne, have a combined potential for the cultivation of 11,757 hectares of crops, while only 5,646 hectares have been developed, with 4,789.4 hectares being cultivated so far.

The Pwalugu Multipurpose Dam is expected to add 24,000 hectares of irrigable land for the cultivation of crops when completed.

The production of tomatoes in large or commercial quantities and the actualisation of the government’s plan to develop the full potential of the Fumbisi Rice Valley to become the major source of rice production to help reduce rice importation also put the region in pole position.

We, therefore, urge the government, the GTA, as well as well-meaning indigenes, especially, to invest in the various sectors to unearth the economic might of the Upper East Region.

The tourist sites, most importantly, need receptive/residential facilities, good access roads, among other infrastructure, to further boost tourism in the area and provide livelihoods for the indigenes, who can be trained as tour guides and also provide ancillary services for tourists.

The arts and crafts industry can also cash in on the large tourist arrivals.