Ghana has taken a major step ahead of other yam-producing nations with the launch of a strategy for the development of the yam industry from farm to market.
This follows the global conference on yams held in Accra on 3-6 October and ongoing strategic development for the sector.
The national yam strategy puts yam in the spotlight as a key crop to help Ghana fight poverty, enhance food security as well as improve the livelihoods and income of those engaged in the yam sector.
Launching the Strategy , the Chief Director for the Ministry of Trade and Industry [MOTI] Mr. Nii Ansah Ajaye expressed the optimism that the Strategy if implemented consistently would enable Ghana achieve some key goals.
He mentioned increased fresh yam exports, developed market for processed yam products, efficient and more profitable business in Ghana's market for value chain actors, increased income for yam farmers as well as a stronger food security positions as some of the key goals to be achieved with the implementation of the strategy.
He further called on participants and policy makers to do all they can to make yam the '' choice food for the world''. This strategy document shows the way, so as you take hold of a copy today, please commit yourself to its implementation'' he added.
He asked development partners to help Ghana by supporting research and technology application by providing some logistics and processing machinery, assisting smallholder farmers with credit schemes and to also sponsor farmer training in global GAP certification and other standards which impact on improving access to external markets.
Mr. Ajaye also called on both local and international private sector investors to design and start up investment projects for the provision of the needed production, storage, haulage and processing infrastructure.
According to the Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture, Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, “the strategy envisions making Ghana the leading source of premium quality yam products with global penetration and contributing to an improved Ghanaian economy and livelihoods”
One of the objectives of the strategy is to develop a commercially-driven research and development as well as capacity building in yam value chain,” the Minister added.
The economic value of the yam industry in Ghana has grown quite rapidly in recent years, with its foreign exchange earnings shooting up to the third position among the non-traditional export commodities in the period 2010 to 2012.
Demand for yam in both fresh and processed forms is increasing in new markets abroad and domestically. The industry faces tremendous opportunities as well as challenges which requires support policies and private sector investment to become organized as a whole value chain.
The Strategy which started in 2012 is a private sector-led road map championed by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture with the support of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection, the International Trade Centre (ITC) with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) providing technical support and process facilitation.
On his part Mr Anthony Sikpa, Chairman of the Ghana Yam Strategy Committee said
“Despite the contribution of yam, the crop has not been given the right attention. This is what this strategy aims to correct.
“With this strategy, not only will yam be given attention, but it will also provide opportunities for all stakeholders in the yam sector,” he added.
IITA Director for Western Africa, Dr Robert Asiedu commended Ghana for taking the lead in developing a strategy for the tuber crop.
He also encourage other countries to emulate Ghana, by developing similar strategies that give clear direction on how to make the crop work for the poor and improve their economies.