Apemenim (W/R), Feb 25, GNA - The Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD), the French development agency, has approved feasibility studies for the third phase of the Ghana Rubber Estate (GREL) Outgrowers' Project.
Mr Emmanuel Akwasi Owusu, the Project Manager, announced this when Mr Pierre Jacquemot, the French Ambassador in Ghana, met the executives of the Rubber Outgrowers and Agents Association (ROAA) at Apemenim near Takoradi.
The envoy inspected French funded projects including the GREL and the Coconut Sector Development Project (CSDP) during his three-day visit to the Western Region.
Mr Owusu said he hoped the AFD would agree to finance the third phase of the Outgrowers' Project to enable the country improve its rubber production.
He said the goal of the project was to eventually increase the production of rubber by 6,000 tonnes, create employment for 900 family farmers, to increase farmers' income and organisational skills as well as to check rural-urban drift.
Mr Owusu said this was to be achieved by planting 2,800 hectares of rubber over a five-year period to bring the total hectares planted to 4,000 hectares and select additional 500 outgrowers to bring the total farmers participating in the project to 900.
He said 2,404 hectares of rubber were planted under the second phase of the project as at December last year, bringing the total hectares planted since 1995 to 3,604.
The project was implemented in the Ahanta West, Jomoro, Wassa West, Mpohor Wassa East and Wassa Amenfi districts in the Western Region. Nana Saa Kofi, National Chairman of ROAA, said the outgrowers' project was an effective poverty reduction scheme and had improved the standard of living of participating farmers.
He appealed to the ambassador to use his good offices to ensure that the third phase of the project took off.