Business News of Friday, 21 September 2018
Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, Ronald Strikker has backed the agricultural sector as the engine of the country thus admonishing the financial sector to serve it in order for the economy to thrive.
Speaking at the launch of Hortifresh; an agriculture-based programme aimed at establishing a sustainable and internationally competitive fruit and vegetable sector that contributes to inclusive economic growth, food and nutrition security, the High Commissioner stated that it was imperative that the financial sector heeded to calls by the government to support the agric sector.
“…the financial sector is so crucial to providing investment funding for innovations and expansions. I was shocked to find out that out of all the loans that banks give in Ghana, only 4 percent goes to the agricultural sector. The financial sector should be the oil for the engine. It should be the oil to make the economy work, it’s not the other way round.
…banks should serve the farmers and not the other way round”
Also at the event, Programme Manager, Sheila Assibey-Yeboah presented the core activities which include the support for innovative business ideas of small and medium enterprises and the development of strong horticulture clusters in key tomato, onion and mango production areas. Through these activities, the programme wants to reach at least 15, 000 smallholder farmers by 2021, with a 20percent increase in productivity.
A first case in point was presented during the launch; as a Cooperation Agreement was signed between the Fruitmaster, Rabobank Foundation and HortiFresh to develop a 5000 meter square greenhouse in the Volta Region.
In the Cooperation Agreement, the three partners commit themselves to the Financial and technical support for quality production of tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers for the national market, employing at least 25 new staff that will operate the greenhouse and grading facilities.
HortiFresh succeeds the GhanaVeg programme which was implemented between 2014 and 2017. GhanaVeg supported more than 30 innovative projects that were implemented by lead companies. At the launch two of the most successful companies; AB Farms and Eden Tree Limited presented the results of their GhanaVeg projects.