President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stated that the operationalization of the Tree Crops Development Authority (TCDA) will be a game changer by diversifying the country’s agricultural export commodity from the over reliance on cocoa to other tree crops considered to possess economic value.
According to him, the six tree crops, namely cashew, oil palm, shea, coconut, mango and rubber, have the potential to change the economy of Ghana and overtake cocoa as the major cash crop of the country.
Speaking at the inauguration of the TCDA in Kumasi last Tuesday, President Akufo-Addo charged the 29-member board of directors of the authority to ensure that all the crops under the authority were promoted to ensure that the nation derives the full potential of all the crops.
He said, “If the economic potential of the six selected tree crops is properly harnessed, Ghana could soon increase exponentially its agricultural export earnings.”
The TCDA is hooked to the export module of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) that has been designated as Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD).
The President disclosed that 220,229 farmers had been enrolled onto the PERD programme to cultivate a total of 235,850 hectares of land with approximately 30 million of the various seedlings produced, as part of the effort to promote the crops.
“At full implementation, the PERD programme will link agriculture to industry through the provision of a solid raw material base for industrialization, develop our rural economies and assist in the structural transformation of the national economy,” he indicated.
He argued that “all these will propel growth, create employment, particularly for the youth, and create wealth,” noting he was convinced that, with time, the steps taken by his government under the PERD would be fully appreciated when all the initiatives were implemented.
“The overarching vision of the Ghana Beyond Aid is neither rhetoric nor gimmickry. We are determined, through action, to achieve this vision and today’s programme is a clear indication of our total commitment. With God on our side, we shall surely succeed,” he said.
The Food and Agriculture Minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie-Akoto, said it was anticipated the six tree crops would earn the country US$16 billion per annum when the TCDA becomes fully operational.
In his view, this figure could double if a substantial portion of the products was processed for export, having been given a target in foreign exchange just as cocoa is currently earning for the country.
The minister disclosed that the authority would be headquartered in Kumasi, the Ashanti Regional capital, and would coordinate and put in place policies and programmes to ensure production, pricing and marketing of the selected trees.
The 29-member board of directors would be chaired by Stephen Sekyere Abankwa and has a former Deputy Minister of Agriculture, William Quaitoo.
It has a representative each from the ministries of Food and Agriculture, Trade and Industry and Finance as well as four directors each on the board from each of the selected tree crops.
By Ernest Kofi Adu