The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) undertook a Rural Poverty Reduction Initiative project on cassava production with focus on Northern Ghana and has since spent closely to US$700,000 dollars for the pilot project in about 18 communities of the West Gonja district.
Based on the recommendation and the government of Ghana’s quest to commercialise cassava as prioritised in the Medium Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan (METASIP, 2011-2015), the Rural Poverty Reduction Initiative was formulated and developed.
The initiative seeks to develop, test and iteratively implement and refine a multi-disciplinary approach to rural poverty reduction in the country.
Elizabeth Beer, FAO project coordinator who disclosed this to the Punch in an interview indicates that the overall estimated cost of the project was US$1million dollars and so far US$700,000 dollars has already been spent on the pilot project in the 18 communities of the West Gonja district.
Ghana is ranked the 6th largest producer of cassava in the world in terms of value, and the commodity constitutes 22 percent of Ghana’s agricultural GDP.
She said the initiative was a result of the key recommendation of the 27th FAO Regional Conference for Africa held in Brazzaville, Congo, in April 2012 for the promotion of results-oriented interventions to stimulate value chain development of key food commodities in African countries including cassava value chain in Ghana.
According to her, cassava has remained one of the staple crops which is consumed in all of the ten administrative regions, with an annual production above 10 million metric tonnes in the last decade.
One year down the line, the initiative started in April 2013 and was being piloted in 18 communities of the West Gonja District in the northern region of Ghana, with particular focus on the cassava value chain.
Dr. BerhanuBedane, Animal Production and Health Officer, FAO Regional Office for Africa/Officer in charge explained that FAO has a mission of supporting its member states in achieving food security for all; to make sure people have regular access to sufficient and high quality food.
He said one of the ways of doing this is to identify key policy gaps and recommend measures to address these gaps through strengthening the capabilities of central and local government agencies to map, formulate and implement integrated and poverty reduction programmes.
Mr. Bedane added that available data shows that up to 34 percent of the cassava produced in Ghana is lost along the value chain.
The study was commissioned to examine a selected group of agriculture-related policies, and the capacity needs of a variety of groups in the agricultural sector at the national and sub-national levels.
With focus on three core policy areas of FAO’s programmatic approach i.e. strengtheningrural institutions/partner organizations, decent rural employment and social protection.
Therefore, FAO after implementation of the project held a stakeholder workshop to focus on the presentation of the key recommendations from three recent studies, commissioned by FAO, under the “Rural Poverty Reduction Initiative-focus on northern Ghana.”
The impact of the project, according to Dr. James Edward Taylor, University of Califonia, Davies indicated that the study stimulates the impact of alternative social and agriculture programmes interventions with special emphasis on interventions related to cassava production in the West Gonja district.
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