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28.07.2009 Politics

Government to transform agricultural sector- Veep

By gna
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Accra, July 27, GNA - Vice President John Dramani Mahama said on Monday that modernisation of Agriculture was crucial to reduce poverty, boost food production and facilitate the country's industrialisation drive.

The sector would therefore be revamped as part of a grand policy to address the perennial problem of food security in the country.

The Vice President was speaking during a meeting with a five-member delegation from the NEPAD Secretariat, visiting the country as part of the consultation to transform the secretariat into an agency of the African Union (AU).

He said attaining food sufficiency was often seen as a barometer for enhanced development, and the near-doubling of investment in that sector.

He said it would also allow government to gradually wean itself from dependence on international donors.

Vice President Mahama noted that Ghana has vast tracks of arable lands which are suitable for the large scale production of corn, rice, tomato and other crops.

He said the renewed focus on agriculture would enable government to break with the past and facilitate huge savings on food items that the country imported.

He said the new agriculture drift, would focus on attracting the youth into agriculture and make the sector a key poverty reduction tool for accelerated food production and export.

A part of the new initiative, government is expected to progressively increase its budgetary support for the sector from six per cent to 10 per cent.

Vice President Mahama said to create sustainable markets for the entrepreneurs who might wish to take advantage of the scheme; government recently announced its intention to review taxes on imported items, in order not to depress local production.

Touching on the relevance of the NEPAD concept to the institutional regeneration in AU member countries, Vice President Mahama expressed satisfaction about its successes in the energy and transport sectors, despite initial apprehensions about its essence.

He said the NEPAD success story should serve as a fulcrum of development on the continent because of its propensity to buoy-up continental response to social issues.

Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of the NEPAD Secretariat, said the deliberation with the Vice President was part of on-going consultations to transform the secretariat into a planning and co-ordination agency of the AU.

He said Mayaki in addition to building up institutional capacity in governance and other sectors, his outfit was also dialoguing with the universities, ministries, departments and agencies as to how development could be scaled up to underserved communities, relying on the dividend yielded by the NEPAD peer review platform.

GNA

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