The ninth edition of National Food and Agriculture Show (FAGRO) has been launched to strengthen Ghana’s agriculture sector.
This year’s edition, which was launched on the theme: ‘Accelerating Sustainable Agriculture through Investment in the Value Chain’ would be held at the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park in Accra from October 25 to 27, 2018.
FAGRO is expected to provide a platform for exhibitions and an avenue for discussions on the how agriculture stakeholders, farmer groups, development partners within the various districts and regional capitals to meet and develop strategies to advance the sector.
As part of activities outlined for the three-day event, there would be a day set aside for stakeholders in the agriculture value chain to discuss how the country could tap into the benefits of Agriculture commercialisation through government’s policy.
In a speech delivered on his behalf, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minister for Food and Agriculture, said for ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ to be realised, Agriculture must take its rightful place of leading the growth and structural transformation of the economy and maximising the benefits of accelerated growth.
‘I am fully committed to champion the policy direction to enable government to achieve this vision of ensuring that agriculture takes its rightful place in the economy.’
Dr Afriyie Akoto said the real task of making agriculture the guide of the nation’s development should start with the citizenry and that it must begin with a shift in attitude and mentality.
Agriculture, he said, needed all manner of professionals, saying that it had moved beyond cutlass and hoe bearing persons who could hardly embrace modern best practices.
Also, the sector remained potentially a major employer, which most people failed to perceive and in the process miss the opportunity.
The Sector Minister said the initiative and foresight of the FAGRO secretariat to harness the potential inherent in the sector was laudable and deserved commendation from stakeholders.
Ms Josephine Ecklu, a Policy Officer of Agribusiness at the Netherlands Embassy, said agriculture’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product had been on the decline due to numerous challenges plaguing the sector.
Despite the trend, she noted that the sector still had great potential to provide an essential contribution to building a strong economic growth, developments and creating jobs as the Netherlands government continually support the modernisation of agriculture in Ghana.
She said the Netherlands had implemented a number of programmes towards the modernisation of the sector including the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme, the Sustainable West Africa Oil Palm Programme and the GhanaVeg Programme.
For the sector to thrive, she suggested the need to address the existing challenges confronting the sector such as issues with land, urging government to formulate policies with traditional authorities that will make land attractive for investments in agriculture.
On the issue of raw materials, she said, there was the need to ensure the provision of quality, constant and affordable materials at an affordable price for agro-processing companies to be economically viable and competitive.
Ms Ecklu said without the availability of money to farmers at a reasonable interest rate and period, agriculture could not develop as it should, adding that, ‘let’s look at innovative ways of financing the agriculture’.