Ghana and Equatorial Guinea have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to leverage their key resources and expertise to modernise agriculture in the two countries.
The agreement, which was signed in Accra last Sunday, covered a wide range of areas, including the exchange of experts and research works, entrepreneurship, investment, processing, finance, strengthening of institutional capacity and marketing.
Ghana’s Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, and the Equatorial Guinea Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Food, Mr Victor Grange Mehile, signed for their respective countries.
The agreement is a follow-up to the recent official visit of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to Equatorial Guinea, where he and his host, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, discussed issues bordering on bilateral, regional and international cooperation and reaffirmed their commitment to work hand in hand to strengthen the ties of cooperation for the mutual benefit of their people.
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Equatorial Guinea’s agriculture
Although oil and gas are Equatorial Guinea’s major sources of foreign exchange earnings, agriculture is the main economic activity, with about 70 per cent of the economically active population engaged in the sector.
The Central African country has not downplayed agriculture, putting emphasis on research and development activities to boost cocoa and coffee exports and increase food production in the rural areas.
Equatorial Guinea also showed that it put premium on agriculture development on the continent when it became the first country to contribute to the establishment of the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund in June 2013.
The main goal of the fund is to strengthen food security across the continent by assisting countries and their regional organisations to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, eliminate rural poverty and manage natural resources in a sustainable manner.
In a brief speech after the signing of the agreement, Dr Akoto said: “This agreement is long overdue.”
He stated that there was a strong bond of relations between the two countries and added that, “We are looking forward to building on the relations through agriculture.”
Dr Akoto recalled how Tetteh Quarshie brought cocoa seedlings from Fernando Po (now Equatorial Guinea) and cultivated the first farm at Mampong Akuapem, which marked the revolution that Ghana witnessed in cocoa production.
The cocoa industry of Ghana, he said, thus remained a significant part of the MoU signed between the two countries.
The minister said Ghana’s agriculture research institutions were ready to put their expertise at the disposal of Equatorial Guinea, while Ghana would also draw on the experience of the Central African country.
He expressed optimism that the agreement would drive the two countries’ agenda to add value to their agricultural produce.
Agriculture means money
The visiting minister said there was money in agriculture, which explained why Equatorial Guinea was excited to exchange ideas and expertise with Ghana on how to move the agriculture sector forward in his country.
Mr Mehile said the agreement would also foster trade relations between the two countries, which would eventually have a positive impact on their economies.
He also said it was refreshing that both countries believed in private sector development, which he noted played a key role in advancing agriculture.
Ghana’s Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea, Madam Esther Ofori, who was present at the ceremony, promised that she would work to ensure that the objectives of the agreement were realised.