Ghana’s quest to transform the structure of her economy from import-driven to a self-sufficient and export-oriented one, has received a boost by a public-private partnership to enhance the agriculture value chain.
The Government on Friday launched the Economic Enclave Project, in the Eastern Region under the GH¢100 billion Ghana COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalisation of Enterprises Support (Ghana CARES) programme to anchor such projects.
The public-private partnership project, which has the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA), as the implementation lead, has 10,000 acres of land under development for end-to-end improvement in the agriculture ecosystem.
It is aimed at increasing productivity, enhancing storage, processing of major food staples and enabling access to ready market – to improve food security, reduce importation and increase the income of farmers and others in the agriculture value chain.
The project seeks to expand Ghana’s productive capacity in rice, tomato, maize, soya, vegetables and poultry – mostly imported, add value to those staples and make markets to then easily accessible.
The project is to be replicated in the Greater Accra, Ashanti, Central, Western North, Savannah and Oti regions, creating about 200,000 jobs and decent income for Ghanaian youth and empower about 70 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Farm roads, irrigation facilities, processing plants, and housing for workers will be built to enhance agric profitability, while supporting the Government’s efforts to ensure a competitive import substitution and economic diversification.
Speaking at the project launch, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, the Finance Minister, underscored the need to fast-track its implementation together with all stakeholders without hesitation and failure.
He noted that Ghana’s annual import bill exceeded US$10 billion, with a yearly importation of rice, poultry, pharmaceuticals, jute bags, fish and sugar, accounting for about 45 per cent.
The country also spent $1 billion to import rice between 2017 and 2021, an annual poultry production demand of 400,000 metric tonnes, with tomato needs from a neighboring country having reached $400 million in October 2022
Mr Ofori-Atta said it had become necessary for Ghana to redouble its efforts, work efficiently and expand partnerships to address those challenges to improve the lives of Ghanaians.
He said the Ghana CARES programme would provide a catalytic framework to holistically address the import-driven issues through the project Economic Enclave Project.
“It [the Economic Enclave Project] is expected to help us improve our food security and enable us to eventually optimise the single market opportunities AfCFTA offers us,” he said.
Madam Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, the Chief of Staff, pledged the Government’s commitment to creating the enabling environment to the successful implementation of the project.
She was hopeful that Government interventions, including the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ), together with the economic enclave project, would stimulate rapid growth and put the economy on a resilient and transformative path.
She assured farmers, traders and all actors in the agriculture value chain that the “Government will remain an active facilitator in land development and market connections under the project.”
Numo Moses Otutetey Akpakposu, a traditional leader with the Kusanya Stool Land, said rice farmers at Tsopoli and other parts of the region suffer post-harvest losses due to the lack of mechanised processing facilities.
He was, however, hopeful that the implementation of the Economic Enclave Project would help solve old nagging problems and present new opportunities for farmers, traders and all actors in the agriculture value chain.