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17.02.2005 Regional News

Agricultural Livelihoods Pilot Project Launched at Bawku

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Bawku (U/E), Feb. 17, GNA - The Country Programme Manager of the British non-governmental organization (NGO) Oxfam, Mr. Samson Salifu Danse, has called on heads of second-cycle institutions to patronise locally produced rice, which is relatively cheaper and more nutritious, to feed students in order to sustain rice farming in the country. He said this would not only reduce poverty among farmers, but would also help to save the country's scarce foreign exchange that could be channelled into improving educational facilities.

Mr. Danse, who made the call at the launch of the Agricultural Integrated Livelihoods Project (AIRLP) at Bawku on Monday, urged heads of institutions to inculcate the habit of consuming domestic products among students.

The AIRIP, which is currently on a pilot bases in four communities in the country, is a collaboration among Zuuri Organic Vegetables Farmers Association (ZOVFA), Oxfam GB, and the Bawku Municipal Assembly and would be extended to 11 other communities by the end of 2005. Its aim is to support agricultural livelihoods by improving the income and food security of rural dwellers in the farming communities of the Bawku Municipality.

Mr. Danse stressed the need for a concerted effort to sensitise Ghanaians to become used to consuming locally produced commodities to sustain the economy, adding that this was the only way to reduce poverty in the country.

He noted that the over-liberalization of the Ghanaian market should not serve as an avenue for the dumping of inferior goods and called on government to put in place measures to safeguard local firms from collapsing.

"Liberalisation should rather encourage farmers to diversify their production and add value to their products for the economy to withstand competition on the global stage," he said.

He stressed the need for government to make agriculture attractive by granting credit facilities and other incentive packages to the youth already engaged in agriculture, for others to follow suit.

Mr. Danse said this would enable the youth in the rural communities to obtain employment in order to reduce their exodus to the urban centres to engage in menial jobs. In his speech, the Bawku Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Mr. Abdul-Rahman Gumah, noted with concern that in spite of the abundant resources at the nation's disposal, it had not achieved much in terms of accelerating growth and development.

He indicated that this problem could be addressed by encouraging beneficiary communities to complement the efforts of government and other development partners towards the promotion of agriculture. Mr. Gumah stated that the Assembly was constructing more dams in the area to facilitate dry season farming to enable farmers to produce throughout the year.

He said this would increase their income levels and help them to cater for their families and reduce poverty. 17 Feb. 05

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