The Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, has disclosed that government has earmarked an amount of GH¢20 million to develop irrigation facilities in four regions to boost the production of export crops.
According to him, the amount, which is to be released from the Export Trade, Agricultural and Industrial Development Fund (EDAIF), forms part of the National Export Development Programme aimed at increasing NTEs from US$2.3 billion to US$5.0 billion in the next five years.
The minister announced this yesterday when he appeared before Parliament to respond to a question from the MP for Nsawam-Adoagyiri,Frank Annoh -Dompreh in relation to government's plans to support the pineapple and non-traditional export crops in the country.
Mr Iddrisu said in addition a GH¢12 million grant funding had also been earmarked for the acquisition of farming inputs and working capital for 12 selected members of Sea Freight Pineapple Exporters Association (SPEG) in the Nsawam-Bawjiase area.
He noted that "it is expected that with the support to the NTE sector, significant improvement will be made to enable us achieve our earmarked target of US$5 billion NTE earnings by the year ending 2017."
"In 2012/2013, one hundred and five pineapple out growers were supported with funding by EDAIF to expand to expand their farms. Funding has been recommended to be provided by EDAIF by end of the first quarter of 2014 as support to four pineapple out grower producer groups to enable them increase the supply of raw fruits to off takers such as exporters and fruit processors," he said.
He said funding support had been provided by EDAIF for the development of mango plantations in the three Northern Regions, and the northern part of Brong Ahafo and Volta Regions.
As at the end of 2013, he said 6,500 acres of mangoes had been established under the project and added that the coverage would be further expanded this year.
"Additional funding support has been earmarked to be provided in 2014 to 5,000 small holder cashew farmers and processors in Wenchi, Techiman and Bole to enable them expand the cultivation and processing of cashew for export under a stimulus package programme," he said.
He indicated that two million sheanut seedling would be provided to farmers in the three northern regions to cultivate alongside their annual crops in a bid to ensure sustainable development of the crop which was harvested in the wild, a situation which was unsustainable.
The minister said a total non-traditional earnings for the country for 2013 was US$2,418.57 million representing 2.29 per cent increase over the 2012 level of US$2,264.39 million.
Mr Iddrisu noted that recognizing the high potential of the country's agro based economy for increased export, seven out of the nine priority product sectors had been identified for support in the National Export Strategy, adding that, the crop-based product sectors such as fruits included pineapples, vegetables, cashew, shea, yam, among others.
In another development, Parliament has directed the Ministers for Works and Housing, and Local Government and Rural Development to brief the House on the regulatory frameworks for ensuring standards of building, its implementation and supervision as well as steps been taken to mitigate the collapse of story buildings in the country.
The directive followed a statement made on the floor of the House by the MP for Wa East, Amen Salifu on the collapse of a seven story building at Nii-Bio town in Accra.
Source:ISD (Gilbert Ankrah)