Hortifresh Programme launched for Ghana and Ivory Coast

By
Morkporkpor Anku, GNA
     

Accra, Sept. 26, GNA – Ghana and Ivory Coast
are to experience a boost in their horticultural production and export with the
launch of the Hortifresh West Africa Programme.

The Programme, supported by the Embassy of the
Kingdom of the Netherlands in Accra, is aimed at establishing a sustainable and
internationally competitive fruit and vegetable sector that would contribute to
the inclusive economic growth and nutrition security.

Mr Ron Strikker, the Netherlands Ambassador to
Ghana at the launch of the programme said, Netherlands was committed to moving
from aid to trade.

SNV is implementing the HortiFresh project in
a consortium, together with Resilience, Advance Consulting, SENSE and
Wageningen University and Research.

The programme will contribute to three
identified areas that are in line with Ghana’s development policy.

These include a competitive and innovative
high-value fruit and vegetable sector; an inclusive and sustainable fruit and
vegetable sector and a conducive business climate that facilitates the
development of the fruit and vegetable sector.

He said there were opportunities that focused
on improving food safety for the domestic market, better quality and added
value for export.

He called on the financial sector to
prioritise the horticulture sector in their loan portfolio; as the programme
has identified many reliable companies with profitable business projects.

The Ambassador said the financial sector was
crucial to providing the investment funding for innovations and expansions,
adding that “l was shock to find out that out of all the loans that Banks give
out in Ghana, only four per cent goes to the agriculture sector.”

He said through the programme, implementers
wants to change the figure and engage banks to start lending to the
horticulture sector at reasonable conditions.

He said the programme would challenge
companies to innovate and expand their businesses; looking at new market
opportunities both in the domestic and export markets.

The Ambassador said Netherlands was committed
to the growth of the sector in both countries, indicating that “l strongly
believe that the horticulture sector, by its very nature, can provide many
jobs, exports and economic growth to the country.”

Mr George Oduro, Deputy Minister of
Agriculture in charge of Horticulture, commended the Netherlands Embassy in
Ghana and implementers of the programme for their continuous support to the
fruit and vegetable sector.

He called on the implementers of the programme
to expand the support to inputs for vegetable farmers to improve on their
yields.

He expressed the hope that the programme would
bring some viability into the horticulture sector to engage more youth.

He said government was very much committed to
the growth and development of the sector; hence the necessary efforts made in
working hard through the support of the various agencies to enable EU lift the
ban on vegetable exportation.

He said when the ban was lifted, government
would make sure vegetable farmers and regulators made due diligence before the
commodities were exported into the EU market.

Mrs Sheila Assibey-Yeboah, the Programmes
Manager, Hortifresh, said the programme succeeded the GhanaVeg programme, which
was implemented between 2014 and 2017 and supported more than 30 innovative
projects implemented by lead companies.

She said the core activities of the new
Hortifresh programme would include the support for innovative business ideas of
small and medium enterprises and the development of strong horticulture cluster
in key tomato, onion and mango production areas.

“Through these activities, the programme wants
to reach to at least 15, 000 smallholder farmers by 2012, with a 20 per cent
increase in their productivity,” she added.

Mrs Assibey-Yeboah said a Cooperate Agreement
was signed between the Fruit master, Rabobank Foundation and Hortifresh
programme to develop a 5,000 meter square greenhouse in the Volta Region.

She said in the agreement the three partners
committed themselves to the financing and technical support for quality
production of tomatoes, bell pepper and cucumbers for the national market,
employ at least 25 new staff who would operate the greenhouse and grading
facilities.

She said “for Hortifresh and Rabobank
Foundation the pilot forms the start of a longer term partnership, through
which a number of projects, particularly those with an emphasis on smallholder
farmers would be supported.”

GNA

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