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$2.5m Agro-Inputs Dev. Projects Launched

By Stephen K. Effah - newtimesonline.com

A 2.5-million-dollar project to boost agricultural produc-tivity by increasing the availability, accessibility and affordability of quality agro-inputs in the rural parts of the country was launched in Accra on Tuesday.

The three-year project, known as the Ghana Agro-Dealer Development (GADD), would support 2,200 agro-dealers and 150 seed producers to make agro-inputs more accessible to 850,000 small-scale farmers in order to lift them out of poverty through productivity.

Under the project, being funded by the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), agro-dealers would be trained in business skills, safe handling and use of modern technology besides being linked to seed and fertilizer suppliers to be able to serve farmers effectively.

It would be implemented by the International Centre for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development (IFDC) and the Ghana Agricultural Association Business and Information Centre.

Current statistics put the use of agro-inputs in the country at 10 per cent of the recommended levels due to the underdeveloped marketing system.

President of AGRA, Dr Namanga Ngongi, underscored the important role of agro-dealers in ensuring productivity noting, “nothing is more urgent than ensuring that farmers have access to the inputs they need to increase farm productivity”.

He said efforts to increase access to agro-inputs in Ghana and Africa in general has been a major challenge as a result of geographical locations, and therefore urged all stakeholders to ensure that it is addressed.

Dr. Ngongi urged Ghanaian small-scale farmers to significantly increase their use of improved seeds and other modern inputs so as to increase their crop yields and incomes.

Dr. Kofi Debra, IFDC Representative in Ghana, said the project would bring to an end the issue of late arrival of agro-inputs for farmers in the country.

He said to ensure that the agro-dealers stock up and expand their operation to the rural areas, 500,000 dollar credit guarantee to cushion commercial banks against losses and make more funds would be made available to them.

In a speech read on his behalf, Minister of Agriculture, Ernest Debrah, said that although Ghana depends on agriculture for economic development, it faces challenges arising from globalisation, climatic changes, increased petroleum and fertiliser process.

He said a draft seed, fertiliser and crop protection bills are being worked on by the ministry and would soon be placed cabinet, noting that the appropriate environment would be created to protect agro dealers, farmers and consumers alike when it is passed.

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