Trade and Industry Minister-designate Ekwow Spio-Garbrah says he would engage all District Assemblies and other agric stakeholders to boost agri-business in the country.
This was in response to a question posed by the Deputy Agric Minister, Dr. Ahmed Yakubu about how he intends boosting agri-business and the entire agric sector during his vetting by Parliament’s Appointments committee Wednesday.
A major challenge facing the local agribusiness sector is financing – that is access to low cost credit to grow the various initiatives.
Even though attempts have been made to address this challenge through the establishment of a number of schemes, they are yet to generate the desired economic impact.
This includes the 547 million dollar five-year Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) programme implemented between 2007 and 2012 to reduce poverty by raising farmers’ incomes through private sector led agribusiness development.
This included three major projects namely agriculture, transportation and rural services to increase the production and productivity of high value cash and food staple crops in certain areas of Ghana, and enhance the competitiveness of the country’s export base in horticultural and traditional crops.
It is also believed that the financing challenge has been compounded by the importation of certain agricultural products into the country which makes the local produce uncompetitive.
But the Trade and Industry Minister-designate, believes the way out is conscious efforts to attract investments into the sector through collaboration among the relevant institutions.
“We will look at what can be done at the local government level in terms of agricultural and agribusiness potential. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has already invited all the 170 districts to propose at least one particular product that it believes it can excel in producing. As you drive by the road-side you’ll find that some particular areas are good at gari-making, some in pineapples and others in mangoes etc.
“That is the evidence of what that particular region or town may be able to focus on and specialize in and expand production for it to also end in processing. So if through for example the Export Development and Agricultural Investment Fund which is there to provide support to industry and such projects, we can work closely with district assemblies, through the Business Advisory Centres of the ministry to help the districts attract both domestic and foreign investment” he said.
“We can also work with development partners to provide more technical support because the fundamentals of business require that a person is able to have not just a business idea but can convert it into a business plan which shows projection of that business.
“We have a lot of successful businessmen in Ghana, many who have been in trading for many years, many who have built story building along our highways and renting them out for small shops. One of the challenges is how to convert some of these trader-type business men into agro-processing industrialists who can employ our teeming youth and also make additional profits rather than just importing products to sell” he concluded.
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