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11.11.2003 General News

Govt would work with private sector

By GNA
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...to check post harvest losses - Aliu Accra, Nov. 11, GNA - Vice President Aliu Mahama on Tuesday said the Government would work in partnership with the private sector to save the over 20 per cent of the 20 million metric tons of annual food production lost after harvest to facilitate the achievement of food security. He said encouraging active private sector participation in the harvesting, storage, haulage, processing, packaging, improvement of products and development of new products would significantly reduce the threat posed by post harvest losses.

Vice President Mahama said these when he opened the second Ghana International Food and Agriculture Trade Fair (AGRIFEX), aimed at linking farmers, researchers, entrepreneurs and other key players in agriculture to network for the development of acceptable processed quality foods for local consumption and export.

A 25-member delegation from the agricultural and commercial sectors of India is participating in the seven-day event, organized by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ghana Trade Fair Company. Vice President Mahama said AGRIFEX, which has participants from all over the nation, would provide a good platform for exchange between the private and public sector from the various areas to find solutions that would make agriculture a viable business.

He said the Government was also committed to the development of rural agro-enterprises to enhance market opportunities to increase the earnings of rural folks and improve on their standard of living. He said to give meaning to its commitment the Government had made several interventions to provide credit facilities to assist medium to large-scale enterprises.

These included Merchant Bank's Business Loans Portfolio Guaranteed Scheme supported by the USAID; the ADB's Performance Bond; Barclay's Bank's Cooperative Loan and Revolving Overdraft; ECOBANK's Medium Term Enterprise Loans and Ghana Commercial Bank's Buyer Lines for Capital Goods.

Major Courage Quashigah, Minister for Food and Agriculture, announced that a working group with representatives from the production, processing, packaging, haulage and marketing chain, was constituted in August as part of efforts to check post-harvest losses.

"Food balance sheet for major staples in 2002 showed that there were surpluses over demand for all major staples except millet and rice," Maj. Quashigah said.

"The largest surplus occurred in cassava, yam, plantain, and fruits, yet substantial proportion has gone to waste already due to inappropriate post- harvest management practices," he added with regret. The Institute of Packaging Ghana, he said, would work closely with the Group to handle the issues of storage and labelling, which were critical for developing acceptable products.

"There are numerous advantages that can be derived from agri-business if properly nurtured. Among these are food security, availability of raw materials for industries, promotion of import substitution and enhancement of exports and the creation of jobs," he said.

Maj. Quashigah said the participation of India in the fair was significant as the country had achieved food security and could, therefore, share its expertise with Ghana.

Giving a briefing on his country's success in agriculture, Mr Kaikhosro K. Framji, Indian High Commissioner to Ghana, said his country produced 600 million tonnes of food annually, which was sufficient to feed its population of over one billion and stocks a surplus of 50 million tones.

India, he said, was the largest world producer of milk, tea and sugarcane and the second largest producer of fruits, vegetables, rice, wheat and groundnut.

Mr Framji said: "Food processing is the fifth largest industry in India. It represents 6.3 per cent of the country's GDP and accounts for 13 per cent of the country's exports, which goes to 80 countries. This 13 per cent is equivalent to 6.7 billion dollars. I believe 6.7 billion dollars is the estimated 2003 GDP of Ghana."

The High Commissioner, therefore, pledged his country's support in human resource development, technological transfer, trade and other areas to enable Ghana to maximize her benefits from agriculture. During the Fair, the regions would promote specific commodities peculiar to their areas, while different agricultural produce would be promoted on specific days to show their transformation from their raw states to various finished products.

Exhibits include cereals, vegetables, fruits, livestock and poultry, fish, processed food and agricultural machinery. It is under the theme: "Processing and Packaging Ghana's Rich Agricultural Produce For Domestic Food Security and Export."

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