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21.02.2006 Business & Finance

Landowners' Financial Demands Thwarts effort of Group

By GNA

Abonya, (G/A), Feb. 22, GNA - The effort of a group of youth in Abonya, near Dodowa to lift themselves out of poverty through the cultivation of pineapples for export is being dealt a blow by huge financial demands landowners are making on them. Their plight was also worsened by their dependence on rain-fed agriculture.

Members of the Power Pineapple Growers said landowners within Dodowa and its surrounding communities were thwarting the efforts of the youth by demanding 300,000 cedis or more a year for the cultivation of .405 hectare.

"This is simply beyond our means although our desire is to expand our farms and ensure that each member of the Group cultivates about two hectares," Mr Samuel Tetteh, Chairman of the 11-member Group told the Directors of the Social Investment Fund Board and the members of the Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Poverty Reduction and Finance on a field trip to the farm on Tuesday.

The group was formed in January 2001 to take advantage of opportunities being offered by the Ghana Poverty Reduction Project/ Social Investment Fund to embark upon sustainable income generation activities.

With 70,000 million cedis assistance from the SIF and the group raising a counterpart funding of 8.9 million cedis themselves the group has to date cultivated a 2.8 hectares farm and had been exporting pineapples since 2003.

"We have been able through the farm to meet the daily needs of our families, especially our children," an elated Mr Samuel Tetteh told the Parliamentarians.

The Group had within the three years exported pineapples to the tune of 139 million cedis and also made a part payment of 54 million cedis of the grant taken from SIF.

Officials of the SIF said the income of the group had increased by about 150 per cent from an average monthly income of about 190,000 cedis to about 500,000 cedis per member over the past three years. But these gains, according to Mr Tetteh could be eroded, when the group continued to depend on rain-fed agriculture. "The vagaries of the weather can change the fortunes we have so far made. Until three days ago we had no water for the crops. But thank God we had rainfall. But things cannot be allowed to continue this way," he said.

According to Mr Tetteh, there were plans to sink a borehole to allow for all year round cultivation of the crop but the absence of funds was thwarting this effort. He said the group had not received any support from the Dangme West District Assembly but expressed the hope that the authorities would take a cue from the good work they were doing to offer them assistance. "We are not deterred by the current difficulties. Our call is to the other youth to take advantage of existing opportunities and work on the land."

To give meaning to this power is nurturing a new group, which now serves as a subsidiary.

Mr Alfred Nii Ayi Clottey, District Crop Officer of Dangme West, said the Ministry of Food and Agriculture was providing technical assistance to the group.

Members of Parliament laude d the commitment of the group and appealed to Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the District Assembly to go to their aid in the acquisition of land and the sinking of a borehole.

Mrs Ama Serwaa Dapaah, Executive Director of the Fund, described the group as a shining example of a success. The SIF aimed at facilitating access to basic economic and social infrastructure and services to improve their viability and sustainability.

The Fund is currently operating in 80 of the old 110 districts had to date implemented 1,049 sub-projects at a cost of 183.5 billion cedis out of which 140.6 billion cedis had been disbursed impacting on the lives of 1.1 million people. The African Development Bank provided 14.9 million dollars of which 99 per cent had been received for the first phase of the Project. The UNDP had also provided 340,000 dollars out of a promised 1.7 million dollars.

"Fifty per cent of the 1.8 million dollars being the matching fund from the Ghana Government is yet to be received while all the OPEC Fund of 2.3 million dollars has been disbursed," Mrs Dapaah said. The Parliamentarians also visited an early Childhood Development Centre at La in the Greater Accra Region also financed by SIF. 21 Feb. 06

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