A Minister of State at the Ministry of Agriculture Dr. Gyiele Nurah has asked the people of Upper West Region not to consider farming just as a tradition but they must reorient themselves and take the venture as a business.
He gave the advice at the first Agribusiness Fair and Conference in Wa in the Upper West Region.
He announced that for the first time in many years, food production increased significantly in 2018 leading to bumper harvest and export of food crops to neighboring Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Togo.
Dr. Nurah mentioned maize, soya, rice, cowpea, cassava, plantain and yam as some of the crops that were exported. He said taking farming as a business, will help build strong linkages among actor in Agribusiness value chains whiles at the same time increasing productivity and market access.
The event which forms part of a larger agricultural program in the Upper West Region is being sponsored by the European Union (EU) and GIZ at a cost of 150 million Euros.
Dr. Nurah said government has intensified investment in agriculture and related sectors since 2017, to better the lives of the citizens.
He pointed out that the implementation of the Planting for Food and Jobs Program has chalked up significant results.
Dr. Nura noted that the agric sector recovered strongly with a growth rate of 6.1% in 2017 from an average of 3.5% from 2010 to 2016 whilst significant yield increases had been recorded for selected crops.
Maize yield increased from 1.8 metric tons per hectare to 3.0 metric tons per hectare recording 67% increase; rice yield went up by 48% from 2.7 metric tons per hectare to 4.0 metric tons per hectare and soya yield increased by 150% from 1.0 metric tons per hectare to 2.5 metric tons per hectare, Dr. Gyiele announced
The Head of Infrastructure and Sustainable Development Sector, European Union Delegation to Ghana Roberto Schiliro commended the Upper West Regional Coordinating Council and the Marketing Oriented Agriculture Program (MOAP) for the positive energy they have invested in the preparation for the event and called on all partners to play their parts for the success of the program.
The Deputy Upper West Regional Minister Amidu Chinnia Issahaku thanked the benefactors of the project for believing in the vision of the region to hold the forum and asked people to invest in the agricultural sector of Upper West.
He said: We are hoping his will ensure that people with funds looking for place to invest would begin to find agriculture very profitable and less risky to invest so as to create jobs for our teeming young graduates.
Mr. Issahaku pointed out that the fair would enable farmers and farmer based cooperatives in the region to link up with businesses and companies that market agricultural implements and technologies to support them to increase their productivity.
The Team Leader and Head of Marketing Oriented Agriculture Program (MOAP), Dr. Elke Stumpf who commented on the MOAP initiative noted that: it is an export and rural development approach of the government, it is a joint effort of MOFA and GIZ and it is also emphasizing the holistic view of agribusiness which we want to support very strongly. She emphasized that the thrust of the Program was to transform agriculture to make it sustainable.
The Country Director of GIZ, Alan Walsch described the maiden agribusiness fair and conference in Wa as a historic event which will propel the town to develop as happened to Tamale when organized its first agric conference some 30 years ago.
An exhibitor at the fair Melanie Amikiya expressed her sentiments about the event said: “The fair is going on well, I come from Upper East and I am a processor sponsored by the Market Development Program for Northern Ghana (MADE) to come and sell and to network with other businesses. They supported me to help smallholder farmers to produce groundnuts and other things. The fair is out to help us to do that better so I am happy to be here”.
The focus of the two day event is Exploring Agribusiness Business Opportunities for Investment in the Upper West Region.
The was also a session on “Resilience Against Climate Change” (REACH), a project on Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change for Rural Livelihoods in the Savannah ecosystem of Ghana.
Report by Emmanuel Mensah-Abludo & Mark Smith