06.04.2004 Travel & Tourism

National Committee on Agro-Tourism inaugurated

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Accra, April 6, GNA- Major (Rtd) Courage Quashigah, Minister of Food and Agriculture, on Tuesday said Africa was failing to realise its full development potentials, because those charged to oversee certain key development areas in their respective countries continued to fail in performing their duties.

"They have failed because they refuse to see to the full implementation of policies and programmes set by their governments for certain target periods and this has kept the continent at its current position," he said.

Major Quashigah, who was speaking at the inaugural ceremony of a 14-member National Committee on the Development of Agro-Tourism in Ghana said, there was a wide range of tourist attractions that could be linked to agriculture and rural lifestyles to enhance the phase of tourism in the country.

The Committee would be co-chaired by Mrs. Anna Nyamekye, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture in-charge of Livestock and Alhaji Abubakar Siddique Boniface, Deputy Minister of Tourism and the Modernisation of the Capital City, to oversee a successful implementation of agro-tourism in the country.

Major Quashigah noted that though the tourism industry had experienced remarkable growth over the past few years, further exploration into the sector by merging it with agriculture was a great vision to further sustain the growth.

He said the linking up of agriculture with tourism would offer tourists the pleasure of relating more closely to nature in a relaxed atmosphere. The Minister, however expressed concern about the rate at which nature was being destroyed, especially wildlife, rivers and the forest, and called on all to be responsible to ensure the sustenance of the ecosystem for the benefit of mankind.

He said most often, "ideas are given birth to, but those to see to their success fail to do so and this often collapses the who idea." He urged the committee to reshape its terms of reference so as to ensure sustenance of the programme.

Mr Warren Weinstern, a consultant for the project explained that if well pursued, the project could create further employment opportunities and greater diversity in income sources for smallholder farmers, herdsmen and fishermen as well as expand downstream markets for small-scale producers. He said most tourists would like to see live animals like goats and cattle in well-preserved parks for grazing.

He also noted that most countries that practise agro-tourism often offered local agricultural products to tourists as samples and souvenirs, stressing that nice packaging and presentation was important to attract clients.

Mr. Weinstern said the success of the project would depend on good interpretation of the origin and cultivation of certain plants as well as the reproductive process of animals to the tourist. He, however, stressed the need for farmers as well as local communities to have increased pride in their work and lifestyles, so as to preserve their culture.

Professor George Klu, Director, Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BNARI), said his outfit took up the challenge to explore the possibility of linking agriculture with tourism after a careful consideration of its advantages to socio-economic and cultural growth of the country.

He said BNARI, which was established by the Atomic Energy Commission in 1993 to help reduce malnourishment and poverty among the citizenry had a 364-acre land on which it had started the cultivation of different kinds of high yielding citrus fruits, among other things.

He said the institute had since its inception been depending on government for funding of its programmes, and therefore saw the initiative to venture into agro-tourism as an opportunity to earn some form of income for further development projects.

Mr Klu called for support from all sectors of the economy to ensure that the project, which was in its pilot stage, became successful. Mr Foster Nyarko, President, Ghana Tourism Federation, said the private sector was convinced that agro-tourism was expedient in providing additional income to the economy.

He pledged the federation's support for policies and programmes that would be put in place by the committee.

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