The 50 warehouses constructed by the government as part of the ‘One District, One Warehouse’ programme to provide small-holder farmers storage facilities for their crops will be ready for use in May, 2019, the Ministry of Special Development Initiatives has said.
It said the facilities, part of the 275 warehouses to be put up, comprised laboratories, solar powered grain dryers and sanitary facilities and would be certified to enable them to participate in the warehouse receipting system being implemented under the Ghana Commodities Exchange Project.
Under the initiative, farmers can deposit their crops and be issued with receipts which they could use as collateral to access loans from financial institutions, while enjoying the advantage of selling their commodities in the market when prices might be higher.
The Minister of Special Development Initiatives, Mrs Mavis Hawa Koomson, in an address read on her behalf at the 2018 Economists Conference in Accra yesterday, said the facilities were located in selected districts in the three development zones.
“Fifteen of the warehouses are located in the Northern Development Zone, while 20 are located in the Middle Belt Development Zone and 15 are located in the Coastal Development Zone,” she said.
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The event, held on the theme “Ghana beyond aid: Developing modern storage facilities through ‘One District, One Warehouse’ Programme” was organised by the Institute of Chartered Economists of Ghana (ICEG).
Mrs Koomson said in an effort to achieve the set objectives of the government’s “Ghana Beyond Aid” vision, the government launched the ‘One District, One Warehouse’ component of the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP).
The purpose of the initiative, she said, was to construct many storage facilities across the country which would hold farmers’ produce and store the anticipated surplus to ensure all year round supply of grains throughout the country.
“The government is by this intervention demonstrating its commitment to ensure that the agriculture sector continues to play the critical role it deserves in our development process,” she stated.
She said in spite of the impressive performance, the sector remained subsistent, dominated by smallholder farming activities that had weak linkages to industry and the services sector.
“The sector is also characterised by high post-harvest losses, low mechanisation, low adoptions of technology over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture and inadequate access to appropriate finance by smallholder farmers,” she said.
She pointed out that the heavy post-harvest losses trend reduced the incomes of farmers, making farming unattractive and inhibiting the government’s efforts at ensuring food security in the country.
“It is for this reason that the government has committed funds to construct and renovate many warehouses including pack houses under the agriculture component of IPEP across the country, she indicated.
She was optimistic that the facilities would help to address poor farm-level practices, poor handling and poor storage activities that exposed farm produce to moulds, rodents and other pests.
“Additionally, it will ensure a continuous flow of agriculture produce, create opportunities along the agriculture value chain and also support the implementation of the government’s Planting for Food Jobs initiative,” she said.
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A Senior Lecturer at the Wisconsin University College, Rev Dr Worlanyo Mensah, said there was the need for Ghana to strive for financial independence and add value to its raw materials to enable it achieve the “Ghana Beyond Aid” vision.
According to him, for the cedi to enjoy stability against foreign currencies, efforts should be made to industrialise the economy to enhance productivity, an aspiration he said could be attained with the construction of warehouses to store crops and goods to feed industries.
He, therefore, urged the government to invest more money in putting up warehouses all over the country to store food crops that would also control inflation of food prices, address food insecurity, national security concerns and create employment for the masses.