Deputy Regional Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to Africa, Dr.Lamourdia Thiombiano, has noted that about 50 per cent of cassava produced in Ghana is lost along the value chain.
This was revealed in a speech read on his behalf by Dr. Berhanu Bedane, an Officer at the FAO during a stakeholders’ workshop in Accra Wednesday, which focused on the recommendations and presentations from three recent studies it commissioned, under the “Rural Poverty Reduction Initiative-Focus on Northern Ghana”.
Ghana is the 6 th largest producer of cassava in the world in terms of value, with the commodity constituting 22 per cent of Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
According to the Food Balance Sheet by the Food and Agriculture Statistics (FAOSTAT), cassava is the first crop in terms of calories intake providing persons who consume it with about 708kcal, with about 24 per cent of total daily calories’ intake.
Processing cassava into gari is one of the most promising value addition activities given the high demand and income elasticity which results in particularly “favourable prices as opposed to fresh roots,” he noted.
Despite noting the benefits of cassava in stimulating growth to both the individual and the nation, Dr. Lamourdia, observed some constraints and bottlenecks hampering the processing of the commodity and said three Community Service Centres in the West Gonja District would be constructed to tackle these constraints and bottlenecks holistically.
The workshop which was chaired by the Northern Regional Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Mr. William Boakye Acheampong brought together representatives from the FAO, MoFA, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, sections of the media, West Gonja district executive, Institute of Social Statistical and Economic Research (ISSER) and some others.
The recommendations enumerated at the workshop were informed by Ghana’s quest to commercialize cassava as prioritized in the Medium Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan (METASIP,2011-2015), which has led to the formation, development and implementation of the Rural Poverty Reduction Initiative.
The Rural Poverty Reduction Initiative deals with the development of the cassava sector and the intensification of industrial processing to increase value addition.
With the implementation of the Rural Poverty Reduction Initiative which took off in April 2013, there have been pilot schemes running in 18 communities within the West Gonja district of the Northern Region, which is considered as the one of the poorest districts in Ghana.
According to Mr.Boakye Acheampong, a major boost in the cultivation and processing of cassava is expected to take off if the pilot projects prove successful.
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