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24.05.2004 General News

Minister calls for multi-purpose agricultural development units

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Sogakope, (V/R), May 24, GNA - The Minister for Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Major Courage Quashigah (rtd), on Monday prescribed the establishment of multi-disciplinary food and agriculture development units to develop specific crops through the processes of production to marketing. Major Quashigah brought out the idea at the opening of a five-day strategic Planning workshop for Directors of the Ministry at Sogakope, with a call on them to dissect "our performance for the past three years and address the weaknesses".

He said such an approach to the handling of crops in the country would facilitate the development of agriculture products through value chains to achieve zero-waste- value addition and an efficient production and distribution chain.

The Minister said it is imperative for the MOFA to facilitate such a project because the shortfalls of other sectors whose activities impinge on food production reflect negatively on the Ministry. He drew the Directors attention to issues such as food security, input supply and distribution, output marketing and implementation and monitoring of policies.

Topics to be treated include processing, handling, food safety and packaging, poverty social impact assessment of agriculture component of the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS-findings and recommendations. The others are development of marketing infrastructure and other services, development of farm based organisations, tariffs and non-tariff barriers and their implications for agriculture and planning concepts.

In his welcoming remarks, Mr Kwaku Owusu Baah, Chief Director of the Ministry directed Regional and District Directors of the Ministry to be investment inclined in their planning and programmes. He observed that hitherto, the Ministry's focus had been on production with nothing on investment with the result that over 47 billion cedis earmarked for investment in the sector could not be utilised.

Mr Baah said the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has also offered similar opportunities to the Ministry and was watching how the opportunity would be utilized.

He said the Ministry has set up its Procurement Committee in accordance with the requirements of the new Procurement Act and requested the regional directorates to establish regional tender committees to handle procurement proposals from the districts. 24 May 04