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20.09.2005 General News

NEPAD spells out agricultural policy framework

By GNA

Accra, Sept. 20, GNA - The Ghana Office of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) on Tuesday tasked African Governments to pay immediate attention to the management and use of irrigation to enhance food productivity.

In a policy outline, Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku, Ghana's Minister of State at the Ministry of Regional Cooperation and NEPAD, noted that there was the urgent need for governments and agriculturalists to act on selected fronts to make a quick difference to the Continents agricultural malaise.

He, therefore, called for capital-intensive investment in infrastructure development to facilitate access to rural areas and reduce the cost of production, storage and extraction of produce to marketing centres.

Dr Apraku was addressing delegates at the Second Regional Outlook Conference on Agriculture and Food Trade Opportunities in the Sahel and West Africa.

The five-day conference aimed at creating a platform for different stakeholders of the markets to have a common opinion on the evolution of the rainy season and the crop outlook one month before the marketing of harvest from the 2005 crop season.

The Conference is being organised by "Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel, CILSS" and "Networks of Regional Market Information Systems and Traders' Organisation in West Africa, MISTOWA" in collaboration with NEPAD and ECOWAS About 150 delegates from member countries, officials of the market information system, economic operators, and international and sub-regional organisations intervening in the area of food security are participating.

Dr Apraku also urged African governments to pay attention to trade-related capacity building to enhance access to markets, focus on World Trade Organisation (WTO) trade negotiations, especially, on agriculture subsidies and to apply at farm level, modern productivity enhancing practices, using properly adapted approaches tested under the special programme for food security.

The Region should build the capacity to respond rapidly to natural and manmade disasters, which if left unattended to could undermine or reverse any gains in the productivity that other agricultural interventions had yielded.

To enhance agriculture development, Dr Apraku urged governments to support research institutions and to promote the use of technology in the sector.

Mr Ernest Debrah, Minister of Food and Agriculture, said developing countries faced food insecurity due to drought; lack of storage facilities and access to production centres and high rate poverty in the rural areas.

He, therefore, urged the conference to develop interventions necessary for national departments and regional bodies to tackle the problem of food insecurity. 20 Sept. 05

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