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13.11.2003 Business & Finance

AGRIFEX 03 Opens In Accra

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The Vice-President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, on Tuesday opened the second edition of the Ghana International Food and Agriculture Trade Fair (AGRIFEX’03) at the Trade Fair Centre in Accra.

The fair, which is on the theme, “Processing and packaging Ghana’s rich agricultural products for food security and export”, is aimed at educating farmers to see agriculture as a big-time business on national and international markets. It is also expected to entice more educated youth into the agricultural sector and to open up the sector for serious investment.

Products on display at the week-long fair include tree and industrial crops such as cocoa, cola, sheanut, coffee, cashew, oil palm, rubber, coconut, cotton and tobacco and their semi or finished goods. Others are cereals and legumes, roots and tubers, fruits and vegetables, livestock and poultry/fish and non-traditional commodities.

Seminars and demonstrations on food preservation methods, film shows and commodity days are being held alongside the fair. Participants, including farmers, food processors, investors, researchers, women groups, district assemblies and communities and a high powered agricultural research scientists and a business delegation from India, are attending the fair, organised by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, in collaboration with the Ghana Trade Fair Company.

Alhaji Aliu Mahama, stressed the need to take processing and packaging of agro-based products seriously in order to protect local entrepreneurs against losses through improper packaging and processing.

He said government would ensure ready market for farmers’ produce and encourage them to expand the production base for increased incomes. He said the government had encouraged and promoted Agribusiness through the implementation of the President’s Special Initiative (PSI) programmes on Cassava, Oil Palm, Rubber and Cotton.

Alhaji Aliu Mahama, stated that the government recognised the critical role of credit and had provided medium and large scale credit facilities in various banks for agricultural activities.

The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Major (rtd) Courage Quarshigah, said there was surplus in food supply in 2002 for major staples with the exception of rice and millet. Yam, plantain, cassava and fruits recorded the largest surpluses yet substantial proportions went into waste due to inappropriate post harvest management practices, he said.

He noted that there is a great demand for the export of traditional and non-traditional agricultural commodities to Europe and pointed out that poorly designed packaging results in losses in the export business.

The Minister announced that a post harvest working group had been established with representatives of stakeholders in the production, processing, packaging, haulage and marketing chain to help find solutions to the problems of post harvest losses.

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