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10.06.2007 General News

Minister calls for agro-business focused "Green Revolution"


Alhaji Mustapha Ali Idris, Northern Regional Minister has called for a "green revolution" which would be agro-business focused to enable the country to achieve food security, employment and growth.

He said this demanded the political will and commitment at both the local, regional and national levels and which should be backed by consistency in policy implementation, increased budgetary allocation and proper regulation of subsidies and food aids.

Alhaji Idris was addressing a Regional Consultative Workshop on the review of Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy, (FASDEP) in Tamale on Friday.

The FASDEP workshop aims among others to inform stakeholders on the revision of the process, which was started in 2004, to present a revised Food and Agriculture Sector Policy Document to stakeholders and to inform them on their expected roles and responsibilities.

Alhaji Idris said the new thrust in the agriculture front would also demand deliberate intervention to increase land holding for agriculture purposes and creating the enabling environment for private sector investment in agriculture.

He also stressed the need to encourage better functioning of sub-regional groupings for agriculture and strengthening Farmer Based Organisations (FBOs) to serve as the engine of the new green agriculture revolution.

He said government was conscious of the contribution the agriculture sector makes to the national economy and had therefore continued to create incentives to promote agriculture by introducing tax exemptions, tax refunds on export, promotion of agriculture education and the provision of soft loans for agriculture investments.

Alhaji Idris said in 2006, each of the districts in the Northern Region received 206 million cedis from the Food and Agriculture budgetary support for agriculture purposes and noted that a lot of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) had also lent their support for agriculture development in the region.

Dr. Ramatu Al-Hassan, a Consultant to the FASDEP Project said the revised document plans several interventions in the agriculture front in order to modernise it to enable it contribute its quota as envisaged under the Ghana Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy II.

She said in line with this in the area of mechanization, there would be collaboration with the private sector to build capacity of individuals and companies to produce agriculture machinery, tools and equipment locally.

The policy would also stimulate demand for agro inputs by ensuring that tax reliefs are passed on to farmers and processors and improving transportation and profitability of inputs.

Dr. Ramatu said under FASDEP objectives for the districts, the districts would select two crops or livestock annually to focus on for effective use of resources but not neglecting other crops or livestock from the normal course of development.

She said plans at the district level would also be developed through consultation with the private sector, Farmer Based Organisations (FBOs) and NGOs operating in the districts.

Mr. Sylvester Adongo, the Regional Director of Agriculture said for a long time, the country approach to agriculture development had been piece-meal and hoped with the introduction of FASDEP things in the sector would take a turn for the better.

He urged the participants and stakeholders at the workshop to be receptive to suggestions that would come out of their deliberations so that at the end of the day what would be implemented would be in "the best interest of the country".

Source: GNA