EU delegation meets stakeholders
Mr Dacian Ciolos, European Union (EU) Commissioner in Agriculture and Rural Development, has met with key partners of the EU in the agricultural sector to discuss the development of agriculture in Ghana.
Mr Ciolos, who was in the country as part of his field visit to Africa, had the opportunity to participate in a round-table discussion at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) on Friday, to discuss the challenges, opportunities and strategies proposed to unlock the economic potential of agriculture development in Ghana.
He said food security remains a priority to the world and that his visit was meant to afford him the opportunity to strengthen the EU’s bilateral relations with Ghana.
Mr Ciolos said the EU was committed towards supporting Africa in harnessing the numerous potentials in the agricultural sector for its growth and development.
“I am pleased to discuss with decision-makers, agricultural stakeholders and academics the most effective ways to promote a strong agriculture, increase food security and local development in Ghana while preserving natural resources”, he said.
The EU Commissioner said the continent and Ghana must look critically at issues such as improving upon the quantity of production without compromising on the quality and strengthen policies that are aimed towards the expansion of the agricultural sector.
He also urged government to address issues such as the management of natural resources, biodiversity and soil fertility to expand agriculture in the country.
Mr Ciolos said the EU was committed to building a strong partnership with Ghana to provide both technical and financial support and to encourage government to improve upon its national agricultural policy.
Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, said although Ghana had made tremendous gains in the past, the growth in agriculture had been slow.
He attributed this to challenges such as the huge infrastructural deficits in storing surpluses, sustaining production levels, deficit in national irritations for agriculture and lack of funding to support these programmes.
He said the sector being the engine of growth of the economy, needed massive investment in order to sustain the gains over the years.
Dr Alhassan said government has shifted focus through the decentralization process to facilitate easy communication and effective monitoring of agricultural programmes.
Again it has, he said, strengthened Public-Private Partnerships to sustain and straighten the weak value chain for proper orientation in agriculture.
Dr Yemi Akinbamijo , Head of Missions and Executive Director of FARA, an NGO working in the field of Agriculture, gave a general perspective on the agricultural situation of the continent.
He said Ghana was among the few countries in the continent which has registered substantial growth in their agricultural sectors in the past few years.
He said that food security was critical for Africa to attain the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals, particularly the first goal of halving poverty by 2015.
Dr Akinbamijo said Ghana is now seen as the beacon of hope for the continent in terms of good governance, but needed to put in much more effort in order to sustain the gains.
He also called for more research, strengthened coordination between government and its partners, capacity development of key institutions such as energy and water as well as in human resource development.
Dr John Kwakye, Senior Economist at the IEA, thanked the EU Commissioner for his encouragement and readiness to assist Ghana in developing her national agricultural policy to expand growth in the sector.
He said the visit was also very significant because it took place at a crucial time when the future of agriculture in Ghana: the programing exercise for the 11th European Development Fund was underway and the preliminary national indicative programme had already identified sustainable agriculture, food security and nutrition as the principal focal sectors for the period 2014-2020.
In the EU, a new reform of the Common Agricultural Policy has just been concluded, and in terms of bilateral trade, an Economic Partnership Agreement with West Africa was also under negotiation.