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29.01.2005 General News

Release land to ensure job creation- Quashigah

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Accra, Jan 29, GNA - Chiefs, families and land owners have been urged to make land available to investors to ensure job creation in their communities.

Major (Rtd.) Courage Quashigah, Acting Minister for Food and Agriculture (MOFA) made the call at Agboza-Obom, a farming community in the Ga District on Friday.

He was speaking when he visited the 200-acre pineapple and paw paw farm of the Golden Exotics Limited, a subsidiary of the "Campagnie Fruitiere" Group.

Campaigne Fruitiere is the first fruit producer of the African Pacific Caribbean region operating from locations in Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mauritania and Senegal.

He said the release of land to investors would also curb the rural-urban migration of the youth in search of non-existent jobs. The Acting Minister of Food and Agriculture noted that the most the difficult problem facing investors was land acquisition. Land owning families should patch up their differences to make it available to enhance the standard of living of the people, the Acting Minister appealed.

People lamented over the MOFA's inability to create jobs during his tenure, Major (Rtd.) Quashigah, who has been nominated for the post of Minister of Health stated.

He pointed out, however, that MOFA could not provide direct mass employment and said jobs could be secured through companies and ventures such as Golden Exotics Limited.

The Acting Minister of Food and Agriculture commended the efforts of the management of the company for their performance over the two-year period that it had been in the country saying "I am happy that the company has provided jobs for over 600 people in the District". He urged individuals especially the youth to go into ventures such as the one the company was undertaking to attract the attention and assistance from the government.

The era of waiting for government assistance has passed, he said and also urged the youth to venture into other areas such as the storage and packaging of agricultural produce.

He also noted that the activities of Golden Exotics Limited would facilitate the research work of students in the universities. The Acting Minister said MOFA provided technical advise to the company by coordinating with the relevant agencies that ensured the smooth commencement of the farm.

He commended the chiefs for providing land to the company as well as the Professor Albert Owusu Sarpong, Ghana's Ambassador to France for his efforts in attracting French investors into the country.

Mr Olivier Girard-Reydet, Managing Director of the Company praised the government for its investment promotion policy that enabled it to register under the Free Zones Act.

He told the Minister and those accompanied him during inspection that the farm, which started in August 2003 had a target of 12,000 tonnes of MD 2 pineapples, a new variety, by 2006.

Mr Girard-Reydet said the company had already exported 800 tonnes of paw paw to United Kingdom, Germany, France and Swiss from its 50-hectre farm.

"Giving the good unfolding of its operations so far, the company has decided to intensify the pineapple programme to export 40,000 tonnes per year as of 2008," he stated.

A total of 15 million Euros would be invested into the pineapples activities within the next two years to create more than 1,500 jobs, Mr Girard-Reydet said.

He said the Company, which was a member of the Sea Freight Exporters of Ghana Association and Africa Express Line had begun a joint venture named Express Fruit Logistics Limited.

The purpose of the Company, Mr Girard Reydet said was to rent and turn Shed Nine at the Tema Port into a proper fruit terminal to enable it to comply with European Union standards and regulations. "This initiative should allow Ghana to enjoy an export facility 100 per cent dedicated to fruit handling at the Tema Port," he said. Mr Girard-Reydet said the Golden Exotics Limited would take on 20 Agriculture students from the country's Agriculture Colleges and universities for their practical attachments.

It had also provided school buildings at Obom; he said and expressed the hope to provide more facilities for the community. Nii Amaate Obom, Chief of Obom, recounted the cordial relationship between the Company and the community saying, "people working on the farm are from my community and I am happy they now have jobs." He promised to release more land to enable the company to employ more people.

Mr Pierre Jacquenot, French Ambassador in Ghana was among the team that visited the farm.

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