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26.07.2005 Business & Finance

Rural farmers to access ready funds through Apex Bank

GNA

Accra, July 26, GNA - The Government on Tuesday gave hope to rural farmers when it formally signed an agreement with the ARB Apex Bank to facilitate the disbursement of funds to promote and enhance agricultural development in the country.

The agreement formally established a fund that would be manned by the Bank under the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) supported Food and Agricultural Budgetary Support (FABS) programme. The programme is aimed at ensuring food security and poverty reduction among the rural poor.

Signing the agreement on behalf of the Government Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Finance and Economic Planning Minister, said the funds were intended to generate the targeted economic growth rate through the provision of needed credit to the private sector for production, processing, storage and marketing of agricultural produce.

He stated specifically that, 37 billion cedis would go into the production of maize and other related crops, more than 20 billion cedis for small-scale irrigation, five billion cedis for the rehabilitation of silos, warehousing and other storage facilities and 350 million cedis for each of the 138 districts for farmer-based organisations. Mr Baah-Wiredu noted that the funds were not grants hence would be paid back into a pool that would be operated as a revolving fund to benefit many other applicants in the future.

"...Government is not only committed to poverty reduction but also creating wealth by empowering our people with the requisite support. "We are also putting the necessary structure and systems for sustainability of our economic growth and development," he said. Mr Emmanuel K. Kwapong, Managing Director of Apex Bank, said with about 120 rural and community banks nationwide, the Bank was better positioned to disburse the funds to a greater number of rural farmers. He said the Apex Bank would ensure timely delivery of approved funds to reach the rural and community banks that would in turn disburse them to applicants.

Mr Kwapong said the proper mechanism had been put in place to follow up the loans that would be disbursed for recovery and submit the necessary returns promptly.

He said currently the Government had injected more than 13 billion cedis into the fund for disbursement.

The Deputy Minister of Agricultural in charge of Livestock, Mrs Hanna Nyamekye announced that from the year 2006 the Government would embark on the promotion of specific crops including maize, mango, cashew and oil palm the production of which the country had comparative advantage.

The private sector, she said, would play a major role in the promotion of these crops with its involvement in production, processing and marketing. 26 July 05

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