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16.06.2005 Regional News

Government policy necessary to save agriculture industry


Tema, June 16, GNA - Nana Owusu-Afari, Chairman of Afariwaa Farms and Products Limited, on Wednesday called for a deliberate government policy towards the development of the agricultural sector to serve the country from future food crisis. He said so far indications were that the sector had not been given the maximum support it required to propel the country out of poverty.

"We must develop a strategy that will allow us to focus on agriculture for the next five years by directing most of the country's resources towards the sector. In fact, there must be an agriculture green revolution," he told journalists on a trip to his farm. The tour was organised by the Association of Ghana Industries to enable the journalists to learn at first hand the problems confronting industries in the country.

Mr Owusu-Afari said the current tendency where banks considered projects in the agriculture sector as risky and therefore unwilling to support them could only be reversed by government intervention. Besides, no farmer could survive with the huge interest rates being charged by the banks, he said.

On the poultry sub-sector, Mr Owusu-Afari said the industry was going through turbulent times through the dumping of subsidised chicken imports from the developed world. According to him more than 40,000 metric tonnes of chicken valued at over 40 million dollars was brought into the country last year. The industry is also being weighed down through the reliance on old methods of production in the face of new technological advances and high cost of inputs.

Mr Owusu-Afari said the local poultry producers would be able to meet the country's requirements when adequately resourced and supported by policy measures to carry out their production. "We must be a little selfish in setting our development priorities. Nigeria is doing it why not Ghana." he quizzed. Mr Owusu-Afari said he is being forced by lack of finance to operate below capacity. The installed capacity of the Farm's hatchery is six million day old chicks a year but currently produces only 1.2 million. Mr Owusu-Afari said the farm required about five million dollars to operate at full capacity.