Private sector will lead Ghana beyond aid agenda — Agric Minister
Ghana's is shifting from being import-reliant and an exporter of primary commodities to a manufacturing and value addition-based economy, with the private sector in the driving seat.
That is to give meaning to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s economic agenda, which is premised on transforming the economy beyond aid, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has said.
He made this known when he paid a courtesy call on the Chinese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Mr Han Changfu in Hangzhou, China recently.
Visit to China
Dr Akoto was in China at the invitation of Mr Changfu for bilateral talks. He also participated in the opening session of the second China International Tea Expo.
The minister used the opportunity to educate the Chinese business community on some of President Akufo-Addo’s initiatives such as the Planting for Food and Jobs, One-village, One-dam and the One-district, One-factory programmes, as well as opportunities in Ghana’s agricultural sector.
Dr Akoto explained that the “Planting for Food and Jobs” programme sought to radically increase food production to ensure food security countrywide and provide raw material for industry, while creating jobs for the teeming unemployed youth.
Touting the success story of the programme, he said the government supported 202,000 small-scale farmers with subsidised seeds and fertilisers so as to increase their productivity last year.
“Due to the successes chalked up, we are increasing the number of beneficiaries to 500,000 this year, and have targeted to reach 1.5 million farmers within four years,” he told his colleague minister and his team.
Touching on the one-village, one- dam campaign, he said the government was expanding irrigation facilities for communities in the savanna zone in the north under the one village, one dam agenda.
“Also, we are increasing our processing infrastructure by promoting the establishment of onefactory in every district under the one-district, one-factory initiative,” the minister of agriculture stated.
The minister stated that the government had instituted various incentive packages to facilitate private sector investment with the option of exporting products back to China or any other market of choice.
Giving a breakdown, Dr Akoto said Ghana had a vast arable land of about 14 million hectares suitable for agricultural production but said only 5.3 million hectares were under cultivation.
“We as well have about 11,000 kilometres of water bodies scattered throughout the country. This vast natural resource potential, coupled with our political stability and friendly people make Ghana a good choice for agricultural investment,” he added.
Dr Akoto, therefore, told his counterpart that the intention was to establish a strong cooperation with his ministry for the development of the agricultural sector in Ghana.
He recalled that Ghana was one of the first countries in sub-Saharan Africa to establish diplomatic relations with China in July 1960 and said as part of the economic cooperation, “Ghana is desirous of gaining access to the Chinese market for processed and non-processed agricultural products such as cocoa, cassava, cashew, fruits and vegetables.
For his part, Mr Changfu said he was looking forward to a cordial cooperation between the two countries, adding that it was good for Ghana to turn to Chinese companies to invest in the country.
He pledged to do everything within his means to provide the needed assistance to make Ghana’s desire to enter the Chinese market with its agricultural products possible.