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13.02.2009 Politics

Government to tap Brazil’s agriculture expertise

By GNA

Government is to tap agriculture technology from Brazil to boost rice production to reduce the huge resources being expended on importing the cereal at an average cost of 500 million US dollars annually.

Vice President John Dramani Mahama, who announced this during a meeting with the Brazilian Ambassador, Mr Lewis Fernando Serra, at the Castle on Thursday, said the implementation of such a policy would help free resources for other sectors of the economy in dire need of support.

The Vice President said government was excited at the readiness of the Brazilian government to support Ghana's food security considerations by way of technology transfer.

He cited projects underway in the Eastern and Northern Regions where Brazil was involved in agriculture.

Brazil is presently supporting the cultivation of rice in the paddy fields of Kpong in the Eastern Region, the first harvest of which is estimated to be a-120,000 ton production expected by July this year.

Vice President Mahama said the cost of importing the cereal, a national staple, had been a source of worry to government and he pledged his personal support for investors willing to venture into large-scale agricultural production.

A source of inspiration to many developing countries in view of her recent technological advancements, Mr Mahama described Brazil as a “model”, which Ghana must emulate and pleaded with the envoy to also consider assisting in developing the shea butter industry in northern Ghana.

He said the poor economic status of women in northern Ghana could be quickly improved if value were to be added to their shea farming activities by way of processing the nuts.

Mr Serra promised to work on the Vice President's request in addition to other projects such as the sugar cane project being undertaken in the north geared towards the production of ethanol.

Ethanol is used in rubbing alcohol, and can also be used to generate gas and electricity.

Vice President Mahama also met with a delegation of the US consumable giant, Proctor and Gamble.

Their deliberations focused on how Ghana could position itself to attract foreign investors by way of rationalizing her tax regime.

Vice President Mahama re-echoed government's position on creating a single database for revenue agencies in a bid to synchronize taxes, duties and levies to make Ghana more competitive in attracting investors.

He said because Africa was fast emerging as the “next centrepiece of investments”, policies would be introduced to attract investors in areas that could provide job opportunities for the youth without destroying the small and medium sized ventures.

Mr Laurent Philippe, Group President of CEEMEA, a division of Proctor and Gamble, said the company, which merchandised diapers and detergents on the Ghanaian market, would respond appropriately to the proposal by way of reducing the cost of its products when the policy was implemented.

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