Agriculture, particularly, food trade remains one of the important areas Ghana should focus on to harness the benefits of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) recently adopted by African heads of state, Interim Regional Head, West Africa of the Africa Green Revolution Alliance (AGRA), Forster Boateng has said.
To this end, he has called on the government to put in place the necessary infrastructure, technological and digital systems and policy initiatives to help increase the food production of small-holder farmers in the country.
Mr Boateng said this in an interview with journalists after a private sector breakfast meeting for the players in the agricultural value chain in the country on the upcoming African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) to be held in Ghana at the Accra International Conference Centre.
The programme, the tenth in the series since 2006, slated for September 3-6, 2019 will be held on the theme, 'The role of private sector in agribusiness value chain digitisation.'
Mr Boateng explained that as an agrarian economy, with abundant water resources and fertile lands, the food sector was one of the low hanging fruits the country could pluck under the AfCFTA.
The AfCFTA is an initiative to provide duty and quota free access to markets in Africa, and is expected to create a market of about 1.2 billion people and a combine Gross Domestic Product of $3 trillion.
Turning his focus on the 2019 AGRF, Mr Boateng said the programme was to bring together experts to brainstorm and explore investment and networking opportunities during the upcoming event.
He said the new strategic direction of AGRA, after investing more than $60-million in small-holder agriculture in the past ten years in the areas of research, inclusive financing and extension services, was to leverage private sector investment to promote agriculture in Africa.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto who spoke on the theme of the programme, in a speech read on his behalf said the private sector had a huge role to play to address the financing challenges in the agricultural sector.
He said Africa's population was estimated to reach 10 billion and this presented opportunity as well as a challenge to the continent in terms of meeting the food needs for the people.
This, Dr Afriyie said digital technology would play a critical role in boosting food production in Africa, and pledged that government would continue in mechanising agriculture in the country.
The President of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Nana Appiagyei Dankawoso I, in a speech read on his behalf lauded the AGRA for the programme and commended government for the initiatives it had taken over the years to promote agriculture.