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30.10.2008 General News

Poverty still a problem in rural areas - Debrah


Mr. Ernest Debrah, Minister

of Food and Agriculture, on Thursday said though human resource development and capacity building programme had led to increased food supplies and crop yields, poverty still remained a major problem among rural population.

He said the challenge was for stakeholders to develop strategies that more clearly addressed the needs of the poor and ensured that they benefited.

Mr. Debrah said this at the launch of the first Edikanfo Progressive Foundation/Communicating America Education Programme (EPF/CAEP) National Agriculture Human Resource Development and Exchange Programme, a collaborative programme between the ministry and Edikanfo Foundations, an NGO to expose Ghanaian farmers to international best practices.

He said the poverty reduction strategy recognized agriculture as a sector with the greatest potential to reduce poverty.

"We recognise the fact that poverty reduction will only be achieved through appropriate actions - a combination of activities to increase production and productivity.”

Mr Debrah said the youth in modern agriculture programme was also to provide gainful employment for the unemployed and underemployed particularly those in the rural areas.

He noted other challenges facing the sector as finance and mechanisation. "My ministry is pursuing vigorous policies to enhance farmers' access to timely mechanised services.”

Mr Debrah urged young farmers, agriculture students and ministry to take advantage of the opportunities that the programme offered to develop themselves.

Mr Patrick Kwabena Arthur, Coordinator, EPF said developing effective strategies to unlock the potential of Ghanaian agriculture was crucial to achieve the country's growth and poverty reduction goals.

He said the foundation had supported development interventions through advocacy, education and training, among others.

Mr Arthur said the exchange programme would offer Ghanaian farmers valuable experience in specified areas, improve communication skills to ensure personal growth and development.