Kofi Annan calls for promotion of agriculture

By Hafsa Obeng, GNA

Accra, Aug. 16, GNA
– Mr Kofi Annan, the Former United Nations Secretary General, on Tuesday
reiterated the need to promote agriculture and fight for better nutrition in
Africa.

He said Africa must
be ready to promote agriculture in order to feed itself with what is it
produces, rather than produce what it doesn’t eat and eat what it doesn’t
produce.

Mr Annan made the
observation during a visit to the Volta Region to advocate efforts to boost the
production and consumption of the Vitamin A-rich Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato
(OFSP) in Ghana.

The visit which was
organised by the International Potato Centre (CIP) was the third advocacy and
education visit by Mr Annan and His wife since they learned of and became
enthusiastic about the potential of the crop to help make a difference with
regards to both health and wealth creation.

Mr Annan said
nutrition is important in the growth and development of every child, saying
when children are brought up and properly fed they grow up to be lively and healthy
adults who are able to contribute to society.

He said nutrition
could also increase prosperity and bring about increase in the gross domestic
product of the society.

He said: “as
Africans we must learn to be determined and much focused to be able promote
agriculture in order to create an enabling environment for everyone”.

Mr Annan noted that
most at times as Ghanaians, the focus is always on big companies to create
jobs, but in most societies, majority of jobs are created by small and medium
size companies and as such individuals must be encouraged to set up their own
businesses to employ each other in order to make the country prosperous.

He encouraged the
youth to get involved and develop interest in agriculture in order to make a
living in the rural areas.

He said not all
could move to cities because the cities are not always a happy place but they
could make life worth living in the country side.

He thanked the CIP
for the efforts made so far to promote the consumption of the OFSP and gave the
assurance that, together with his wife, they are ready and determined to work
together to promote the industry.

Mr Roy Ayariga, of
the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), applauded the efforts of Mr Annan
and his wife in ensuring the production and consumption of the OFSP in the
region.

He said it would go
a long way to help in the attainment of good health and the creation of wealth.

It would not only
benefit farmers but create a number of opportunities for people to develop the
community.

He said MOFA would
continue to educate and promote the production and consumption of the OFSP for
the benefit of the region and the nation as a whole.

Mr Emmanuel Darkey,
the Chairman Sweet Potato Innovation Platform, said the OFSP is a rich source
of dietry Vitamin A, a required nutrient that is often deficient, particularly
in diets of children under the age of five and pregnant and lactating women.

He said deficiency
of Vitamin A, which is one of the micro nutrients, is prevalent in Ghana with
70 per cent of children suffering to some extent from the problem, which along
with deficiency from other micro nutrients, particularly iron and zinc can lead
to serious health problems.

He said “just 100g
of OFSW meets the daily Vitamin A needs of a young child”.

Mr Darkey called on
MOFA to make the OFSP a national priority crop since growing it reduces poverty
and increases the health of growers and consumers.

He appealed to
donors to fund efforts to strengthen the production and processing of the crop.

GNA

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