15 January 2016

Ghana: Minister Calls for Long-Term Financing for Agriculture

Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, has called for long-term financing for agriculture by financial institutions to improve food production and sustainability.

This, he said, would help expand agriculture production from subsistence farming into commercial venture as well as create employment and ensure food security.

Mr Alhassan noted that appropriate financing was needed to enhance the economic fortunes of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) and that financial institutions must provide solutions tailored to both small scale and large scale commercial agriculture.

Dr Alhassan made the call on Thursday in Accra at the launch of a commercial agriculture investment guide for the northern savannah ecological zone of the country.

The guide was produced by the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority with support from the Soil Research Institute, the Queiroz Galvao of Brazil, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre and the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

The guide presents information on business environment indicators, an inventory of natural resources for large-scale agriculture, including information on climate, soils and hydrography network, land suitability and effect of game-changing irrigation schemes on soil properties.

Dr Alhassan said the Ministry recognized policies on commercial agriculture as critical in the transformation of the country's developmental agenda and the need to create business opportunities in the sector.

He noted that commercializing agriculture would enhance knowledge transfer in the sector through modern technology and influence public agencies in shaping their strategic policies.

Dr Alhassan said the SADA zone required closer attention, prioritized resource allocation and commitment from stakeholders for its effective transformation, adding that when properly harnessed, it would make the country highly secure and less dependent on imports.

Dr Ekow Spio-Gabrah, Minister of Trade and Industry, commended the leadership of SADA for producing the guide and that the findings were borne out of an intense collaboration between Ghanaian and Brazilian organizations-based on the success story about the transformation of the Brazilian Savannah.

He said the Ministry of Trade and Industry had initiated programmes geared towards expanding small scale farming, stressing that government plans to establish Export Development Bank to mobilize additional revenue for the domestic and export products.

The Minister said government will establish commodity exchange for farmers to be abreast with the prices of their produce in the market for realistic prices and encouraged other organizations to emulate the gesture of SADA in improving agriculture.

Mr Sulley Adam, Chairman of SADA, said the guide was necessitated by the lack of information about the zone and limited research data on the country's Northern Savannah Ecological Zone.

Mr Adam said the board and management of SADA had re-oriented the organization to emphasize three key pillars-facilitation, catalysation and co-ordination, leading to accelerated performance.

He said the Authority welcomed organization to support the provision of technologies that accompany irrigation to transform the zone from rain-fed low output production to large scale commercial agriculture.

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