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Restrict export of agricultural produce - AGI urges govt

BY: Maclean Kwofi
 Dr Kwesi Ayim Darke, President, AGI, addressing the summit
Dr Kwesi Ayim Darke, President, AGI, addressing the summit

Manufacturers have urged the government to restrict the export of agricultural produce in their raw form to the international market.

For instance, they contend that a ban on the export of paddy rice and cashew can force their international competitors, who sourced their produce locally, to establish factories in the country to create more jobs.

The call forms part of a blueprint on agricultural transformation designed by the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) to help accelerate Ghana’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

They said they would soon table the blueprint before the government for it to be integrated into the national development strategy.

The President of the AGI, Dr Kwasi Ayim Darke, speaking at the India-Ghana business summit in Accra last Wednesday, said special focus on the agricultural sector was the surest way to fast-track the economic development of the country.

The summit, which was on the theme: “Strengthening India-Ghana business relations, post COVID-19”, provided a platform for Ghanaian and Indian businesses to network on how best to form strong partnerships for the benefit of their countries.

Present were the Indian High Commissioner to Ghana, Mr Sugandh Rajaram; a Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Mr Kwaku Ampratwum-Sarpong; a Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Michael Okyere Baafi, and the international relations committee member of the AGI, Mr Stephen Djaba.

There was also a ceremonial lamp-lighting exercise at the event to signify purity, goodness, good luck and power.

According to Dr Darke, the AGI was a key area on which the government needed to refocus to be able to transform the economy for the better.

He described the One District, One Factory (1D1F) policy of the government as one of the laudable initiatives that could contribute to the growth of agriculture.

He, however, said he was baffled that paddy rice and cashew were being exported in their raw forms, while there were factories in the country that could add value to them and export them as finished products.

“We seek to engage the government to ensure that agricultural produce in their raw state is not exported under the auspices of a strategy. If you do so, you cannot create jobs or raise enough revenue for development,” he added.

Industrial transformation

On the Ghana Beyond Aid initiative, Mr Baafi said the programme could lead to robust industrial transformation of the country that could transform the economy from one that exported basic commodities, such as cocoa, timber, gold and crude oil, to one driven by value addition, industrial exports, technology and innovation.

“While Ghana’s exports to India include commodities such as cocoa, timber and gold, India’s exports to Ghana are pharmaceutical products and agricultural machinery which are basically value-added or finished products,” he said.

For his part, Mr Rajaram urged businesses not to venture into areas which were no longer relevant in today’s changing world.

Rather, he said, they must be adaptable to deliver new products and services or form novel partnerships to strengthen operational capacities.