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17.03.2009 Business & Finance

Ghana to benefit from $100 million credit for agriculture

By gna

Ghana is to benefit from 100 million dollars credit from the Standard Bank Group of South Africa, towards the production of cereals, beginning from this farming season.

The amount would be given to farmers in the form of loans through a subsidiary of the Standard Bank, the Stanbic Bank.

The package was put together by the Standard Bank Group in collaboration with the Millennium Challenge Account, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation in support of agriculture in four African countries – Uganda, Mozambique, Tanzania and Ghana – to put into operation the Kofi Annan Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa.

A delegation from South Africa, which is in Accra to sign the Memorandum of Understanding with the Government on the facility, informed President John Evans Atta Mills of the credit facility, at the Castle, Osu on Tuesday.

President Mills welcomed the package and reiterated Government's determination to support agriculture, especially farmers.

He said agriculture employed more than 60 per cent of the nation's workforce and contributed about 35 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and remained at the top of Government's priority.

President Mills, however, noted that the nation was yet to come to a position where it could adequately feed itself as it imported almost everything with the exception of cocoa.

He said the assistance had come at the right time adding that the Government was determined to make the nation self-sufficient in food production and to export the excess.

He said it had not been easy for farmers to access credit from the banks and commended the Standard Bank Group for blazing the trail for its credit assistance initiative.

President Mills prayed for more fruitful relations with the Bank and urged other banks to copy the example to facilitate the growth of the nation's agriculture.

Mr Jacko Maree, Chief Executive Officer of Standard Bank, said the Bank had operations in 17 African countries but wanted to be seen rather as a local bank that was interested in the nation's economic growth and development.

He praised Ghana's democratic credentials for successfully conducting last year's elections without a hitch and peacefully transferring power from one government to the other.

Mr Moree said the Bank had been stable in the face of the global financial crisis.

As a growing Bank, he said, China bought 20 per cent shares in it last year, and expressed the hope that the Bank would grow even more.

He underscored cooperation with the Government and said apart from financing agriculture the Bank was also interested in assisting to finance the petroleum industry.

Mr Moree announced that the Bank had signed up to sponsor the upcoming African Cup of Nations in Angola in 2010.