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18.08.2005 General News

Ghana needs to improve agricultural methods - Bartels

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Tamale, Aug. 18, GNA - Mr Kwamena Bartels, Minister of Private Sector Development and President's Special Initiatives (PSI) on Thursday emphasized the need for the country to adopt modern methods of agricultural production to propel its economic growth. He said: "At present, the Ghanaian private sector is dominated by low-value agriculture, which contributes about 35 per cent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employing about 60 per cent of the population".

Mr Bartels said this in a speech read for him at one-day stakeholders' workshop in Tamale on the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund, which drew participants from the Northern and Upper East Regions.

The workshop was sponsored by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Mr Bartels said the nation had for a long time depended on cocoa, gold and timber, which were all primary products. " The concentration on these in our economy has meant that when prices of any of these commodities change on the world market, our economy is greatly affected".

The Minister noted that Ghanaian firms had tended to focus on domestic markets and because of this, policies of liberalising the economy had sometimes hit them hard saying that for the firms to compete with imports, it was necessary to improve productivity. He said in view of this, the government had developed a National Medium-Term Private Sector Development Strategy to facilitate private sector-led growth.

Mr Bartels said the President's Special Initiatives were a bold attempt to facilitate the introduction of more modern methods in selected areas for the export market, adding: "The government is only a facilitator and it is only the private sector investment, which will be required for operations".

He said the government had devoted resources from the Millennium Challenge Account to the non-traditional export sector to ensure that private sector development was mainstreamed within the public sector. He urged businesses to take advantage of the Fund by submitting realistic proposals to the BUSAC Board. Mr Bartels said the sector Ministry would take keen interest in the implementation of the Fund in the two regions to ensure that its ultimate objective of alleviating poverty through the removal of bottlenecks in the private sector was achieved.

Alhaji Abu-Bakar Saddique Boniface, Northern Regional Minister, said the Fund had so far, spent eight billion cedis on 44 activities on pilot basis in other parts of the country and expressed satisfaction that the facility had been extended to the Northern and Upper East Regions.

He called on the labour movement to educate its members on the new Labour Law to promote industrial peace in the two regions to enable the Fund to achieve its objectives.