Accra, Aug. 23, GNA - Vice President Aliu Mahama on Monday tasked the Afro-Asian Rural Development Organisation (AARDO) to encourage poor countries in Africa and Asia to integrate good governance practices in their strategies to better the lot of rural dwellers.
Opening the 52nd Executive Committee of AARDO in Accra, the Vice President said: "Governments in Africa and Asia should seek to improve good governance and reduce conflicts as a means of improving the living conditions of their people.
"...Your Organisation must intensify its efforts to bring pressure to bear on governments that have not opened their systems to the wind of change....AARDO would be completing the objectives of NEPAD by encouraging good governance in its member countries."
AARDO, which has 28 members, was formed in 1962 as an intergovernmental body to promote economic and social changes, mainly through human development and agricultural activities, to make the lives of rural dwellers better.
Vice President Mahama said it was unacceptable that 34 of the world's poorest nations were in Africa, while 24 of the countries with the lowest human development were also from the Continent.
"Statistics have it that nearly three-quarters of Africa's poor live in rural areas," he noted. "Agriculture accounts for 30 per cent of Africa's GDP, 70 per cent of her labour force and 40 per cent of exports."
Unfortunately, he said, the global economic conditions had not favoured Africa and Asia, whose economies were mainly agrarian. It was in view of this situation that AARDO's vision was still relevant, he said, and tasked AARDO to assist these countries with systematic, pragmatic and well-intentioned policies and programmes aimed at placing the rural dweller on a better socio-economic pedestal.
In Ghana, AARDO is assisting the Bolgatanga Basket Weavers, Bonwire and Dumakwai Kente Weavers and the Aburi Wood Carvers and Batik Cooperative Society with 46,000 dollars to build their entrepreneurial and managerial skills.
Similar assistance was extended to the Akim Manso Women's Oil Processing Project in the Eastern Region at the cost of 10,648 dollars and Saltpond and Elmina Women's Fish Smoking Projects in the Central Region, which costs 19,115 dollars. Ten thousand dollars was also spent to construct a day care centre at Twifo Hemang in the Central Region. Vice President Mahama mentioned some of the efforts being made by the Government of Ghana to improve rural economies, saying Ghana was on track in that direction.
These include the mass spraying of cocoa farms, which has increased cocoa yields to unprecedented levels (nearly 700,000 tonnes) and implementation of special initiatives on cassava, oil palm, salt and textiles.
Mr Kwadwo Adjei-Darko, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, advocated the establishment of joint ventures between Asia and African partners in farming, food preservation, storage, processing and marketing, arts and craft, bakery, light industries, among other things under the auspices of AARDO.
He said the rich experience of India in the areas of producing wind and solar energy as cheaper forms of power and reasonably priced computer to rural dwellers could be shared.
Ms Wafaa El Hadidy of Egypt, President of AARDO, urged member countries to pay their dues to enable the organisation to implement its projects.
She called for a membership drive to bring in more countries in the pursuit of south-south cooperation.
Thirteen of AARDO's members are from Africa while 14 are from Asia. The Institute for Rural Development of Kenya is an associate member. AARDO is headquartered in New Delhi, India. 23 Aug. 04