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26.06.2004 General News

MOFA to establish Agricultural research unit

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Bolgatanga, June 26, GNA - The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) is to establish Food and Agricultural Research and Development Units (FARDU) for specific categories of agricultural products to maintain the value chain and facilitate the effective linkage between various stakeholders, in that sector.

The Unit would comprise researchers, financial institutions, agriculturists, marketing experts, environmentalist, industrialists and officials of the Ghana Export Promotion council. It would be responsible for developing products from roots and tubers, horticultural crops, cereals, aquaculture, cattle and small ruminants for marketing.

Mr Roy Ayariga, Upper East Regional Director of Agriculture, announced this at a day's regional sensitisation workshop on the newly formulated Food and Agricultural sector development policy in Bolgatanga on Friday. It was attended by 100 stakeholders including District Chief Executives and their coordinating Directors, Presiding Members of District Assemblies, farmers, planning officers, non-governmental organisations and representatives of various department whose work have a bearing on agriculture.

Its purpose was to acquaint all stakeholders with the contents of the FASDEP documents to enable them pursue the vision of making Ghana a leading agro-industrial nation in Africa by 2010, in their respective area.

Mr Ayariga explained that FASDEP is an internally generated policy document of MOFA that brings out the connection between production, storage, processing preservation, packaging and marketing, among other things.

Citing an example with the linkage between agricultural production, processing and marketing, the regional director indicated that rather than transporting live guinea fowls, sheep, goats and cattle down south, livestock farmers in the Upper East would obtain a higher market value if they slaughtered, dressed, packaged and labeled those meat products before sending them to the southern markets.

Apart from adding value to the products, the transportation of processing and marketing, the regional director indicated that rather than transporting live guinea fowls, sheep, goats and cattle down south, would be allowed to decompose in the fields and enrich the soil for higher crop yield, said Mr. Ayariga.

Earlier in a keynote address read on his behalf by Mr Rockson Bukari, Bolgatanga Municipal Chief Executive, the Regional Minister, Mr. Mahami Salifu, indicated that in a bid to give a boost to agriculture in the region, government had embarked on a sustained programme to improve the feeder road network to link up food production areas to market centres, as well as the construction of dams for irrigation and the improvement of market infrastructure. "It is now left to us to seize the opportunities being provided to increase agricultural production and to add value to the products to improve our living standards at the individual and national levels, he said.

The Regional Minister noted that the neglect of value addition to agricultural commodities in the rural areas over the years was a major factor that contributed to the low incomes of farmers in those areas. He therefore, urged workshop participants to take up the challenge and reverse the trend. He further urged farmers in the region to pursue wealth creation by departing from the production of traditional staple food crops alone and embarking on the large-scale cultivation of industrial and export crops such as sweet potato, soya bean, sesame, onions and sorghhum for the breweries.

In his remarks, Mr. Nicholas Nayembil, Presiding member of the Bolgatanga Municipal Assembly who chaired the function, observed that even though agriculture has been the main economic activity for a vast majority of the country's population since time immemorial, faring methods have remained largely primitive involving mainly the use of the small hoe and cutlass on small patches of land.

Mr. Nayembil, who is also the Bolgatanga Municipal director of education, further pointed out the inconsistency between MOFA's quest for increased agricultural production on the part of rural farmers and the ever-increasing cost of fertilizers. He, therefore, charged workshop participants, agricultural scientists and industrialists to apply themselves seriously to finding workable solutions to these issues.

Presentations and discussions at the workshop included facilitation of the production of agricultural raw materials/commodities for industry and export, facilitating an efficient and effective input supply and distribution system, ensuring food security, and formulating and coordinating policies and programmes for the food and agriculture sector.

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