Accra, March 30, GNA - Professor Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere, the Outgoing Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Legon, on Thursday said to be able to modernize agriculture and increase its factor of productivity; attention should be paid to the development of agribusiness.
He said as incomes increased, consumers became sophisticated and demanded sophisticated items, which had to be provided with the assistance of a well functioning agribusiness system. "Therefore, strategies to move per capita income to 1,000 dollars by 2015 should be accompanied by the development of agribusiness so that the ensuing demands of consumers can be satisfied."
Prof Asenso-Okyere, who was speaking at the inauguration of the Ghana Association of Agricultural Economics (GAAE) on the theme "Agribusiness Development in Ghana" in Accra, said although there were a few large agribusiness firms in processing, many agribusiness enterprises were micro or small in size and needed to be assisted financially.
The Association, which had the Reverend Dr Samuel Asuming-Brempong as its President, would focus on the development of agribusiness and related activities in Ghana, and try to mainstream the discussion on agribusiness issues, such as national debates in the media and at various seminars and workshops.
Prof Asenso-Okyere said it was about time that a Credit Reference Bureaux was established in Ghana to overcome the asymmetric information problems and also to protect lenders from fraudsters.
He said if people could be assisted to know their financial standing in terms of how much they earned at the end of the month and other commitment they made within the month, then they could confidently go for bank loans and service them at the stipulated time. He stressed the need to focus on the development of the institutional framework to generate more long-term savings in promoting investment opportunities for growth.
Mr Daniel Dugan, Deputy Minister for Fisheries, said direct response to the negative impact of some policies of the foreign partners and the shortfalls in the assistance to support the country's agriculture industry for the purposes of modernizing and making the sector more competitive was very questionable.
He, therefore, urged the Executives of GAAE to place the development of the agribusiness sector in its deliberation and brainstorm on issues that would help complement the efforts of the development partners in mobilizing resources to fund agribusiness. Rev Dr Asuming-Brempong said the association would give its members a collective voice to assist and contribute meaningfully to the socio-economic development of the country.
He said the theme was carefully chosen to reflect the current need of the country as it sought to pursue a programme of rapid economic growth and poverty reduction, which had been articulated in the country's Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy II.
He said agriculture and related activities remained the mainstay of the Ghanaian economy and were recognized to be the principal sector for development, growth and poverty alleviation in the foreseeable future. "At a macro level, agriculture contributed 36 per cent to national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2002 and employed 51 per cent of the labour force. Traditional agricultural exports most notably cocoa and non-traditional agricultural exports collectively accounted for 55 per cent of foreign exchange earnings in 2003."
Rev. Asuming-Brempong said agricultural non-traditional exports were valued at 588.9 million dollars in 2003, having increased 800 per cent since 1994. Adding that agriculture and related activities were the dominant source of livelihood for much of the population, especially in rural areas.
He said the development of the agribusiness sector was fundamentally important to wider processes of agricultural development in Ghana and the enhancement of rural livelihoods that acted to reduce poverty and diminished rural-urban migration.
Dr Daniel Bruce Sarpong, First Vice President in charge of Programmes; Dr Felix Asante, Second Vice President in charge of Administration; Mr Ernest Asante, Third Vice President in Charge of Finance; Dr Yaw Osei-Asante, Secretary; Mr Kofi Ocran, Vice Secretary and Mrs Lucy Gyiele, Treasurer were the Executive Committee Members. Meanwhile, Ghana was selected to host African Association of Agricultural Economics conference in 2007 and the International Association of Agricultural Economics in 2008.