Ghana's large food import bill presently amounts to two million dollars a year, a development which will affect the country's economy without a quick change in policy.
The Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, Mr. Ron striker who said this in Accra, yesterday, observed that Ghana, mainly imports products like rice, sugar, frozen chicken and oil which could be easily produced in the country.
Mr. Striker who was speaking at the launch of the first Value Added Agriculture Expo in West Africa, slated for August 2 to 4 in Ghana, said boosting agriculture was essential to attaining the president's vision of 'Ghana beyond Aid'.
He stated that agricultural investments would promote trade and economic growth as it employs almost half of the population and contributes to one-fifth of the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GAP).
"The government of Ghana accords high priority to making agriculture a top sector in Ghana, initiatives like Planting for Foods and Jobs and the prominent position of agriculture in the 2018 budget is proof," he said.
The Value Added Agriculture Expo, West Africa, which will be held in Ghana is expected to be West Africa's largest exhibition promoting farm to fork solutions in value added agriculture and aquaculture.
It is being organised by Reed Exhibition and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) with support from other organisations in Ghana.
The event will cover the full value chain in agric business, showcasing input, livestock care solutions to farmers and agro processing best practices to increase the production ratio of outputs to inputs.
It is expected to bring together all major players offering products and services in the agricultural industry.
In addition to showcasing the latest solutions, the exhibition would also offer a live demonstration area and formal training workshops, where farmers are likely to learn new practical and business skills.
The Minister of State in Charge of Agriculture, Dr. Gyiele Nurah said the Planting for Food and Jobs which started with a seed capital of GH¢560 million had empowered about 200,000 farmers by providing them with fertilisers, improved seeds and other farming inputs.
The programmes has, according to him, created 745,000 jobs in over a year, in areas of input supply, farm level production , post-harvest activities and the distribution of output.
He said it was the intension of the government to get Ghanaians to embrace agriculture, as a full-time business to create more jobs and have enough for industry and export.
Dr. Nurah said, the event to be held in Ghana stresses the need for value addition in the production of raw materials saying 'this means we must move from the era of shipping valuable raw materials away for nothing'.
"We must develop value chains that will make all the differences in our earnings from the rich resources of our land," he said.
He was positive that the expo would bring out the best in the agric industry and create a good platform for exchange of ideas, networking among industry players and foster business relationships and partnerships.