Bolgatanga, June 30, 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 the sector.
The Unit would comprise researchers, financial institutions, agriculturists, marketing experts, environmentalist, industrialists and officials of the Ghana Export Promotion Council (GEPC). 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 (FASDEP) in Bolgatanga.
One hundred stakeholders including District Chief Executives, District 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 labelled those meat products before sending them to the Southern markets.
He said apart from adding value to the products the discarded parts would be allowed to decompose in the fields and enrich the soil for higher crop yield.
The Regional Minister, Mr Mahami Salifu in an address read for him by Mr Rockson Bukari, Bolgatanga Municipal Chief Executive, said in a bid to give a boost to agriculture in the Region, the Government had embarked on a sustained programme to improve the feeder road network to link up food producing areas to marketing 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.
He, therefore, urged the workshop participants to take up the challenge and reverse the trend and asked farmers in the Region to pursue wealth creation by departing from the production of traditional staple food crops alone and embarking on large scale cultivation of industrial and export crops such as sweet potato, soya bean, sesame, onions and sorghum for the breweries.
Mr Nicholas Nayembil, Presiding Member of the Bolgatanga Municipal Assembly, who chaired the function, observed that even though agriculture had been the main economic activity for a vast majority of the country's population for a long time, farming methods had remained largely undeveloped 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. 30 June 04