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14.10.2005 Regional News

Tarring rural roads would reduce poverty by 50%

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Tamale, Oct.14, GNA - Professor Saa Dittoh, Pro Vice- Chancellor of the University for Development Studies (UDS) has observed that tarring of roads leading to rural food production areas would reduce poverty in the country by 50 per cent.

He said about 60 per cent of food produced in the country were often left to rot on the farms due to deplorable roads to convey them to marketing centres and therefore, called on the Government to commit more resources to improve feeder roads. Prof. Dittoh made the observation when addressing stakeholders at the 40th Anniversary public lecture of the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) at Tamale on Thursday.

The forum the first in the series was to bring stakeholders together on how best the bank could improve on its services in the country.

Under the theme: "Challenges and Prospects of Agricultural Financing in Northern Ghana" the forum was in addition, to solicit views on how to widen its operation to cover other areas in the country. Prof. Dittoh called on the bank to look beyond 40 years of driving Ghana's agricultural development through banking particularly in the north to improve the economy in the region.

He said the vicious circle of poverty was formed as a result of low production, incomes and standards of living and called on the management of the bank to increase its provision of credit for small-scale farmers to improve the agriculture sector.

Prof. Dittoh condemned the practice of over privatization saying, "You cannot nurture a developing economy by over privatizing. It is strange that policy makers and their advisors only see state failures and not market failures."

Alhaji Alidu Abukari, Board Member of the bank said ADB would continue to help farmers and gave the assurance that a new branch would be opened at Yendi to enhance rural banking.

Alhaji Abubakar Saddique Boniface, Northern Regional Minister commended the bank on its role for the past 40 years by assisting farmers in their activities.

He called on stakeholders of the bank in the three northern regions to offer suggestions that would enhance the implementation of programmes that would make farmers benefit from financing schemes to boost agriculture.

Dr Abdulai Salifu, Director of the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute, SARI, called on farmers to place more premiums on the production of rice, cotton and sorghum to improve their living standards.

He said there were more than 710,000 hectares of virgin land in the north suitable for cereals production but farmers still used the old methods of farming leading to low crop yield annually and called for a radical approach to reverse the trend. 14 Oct.05