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03.04.2006 General News

MCA to help improve rural incomes - Minister

By GNA

Savelugu (N/R), April 3, GNA - Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, Minister of State in charge of Public Sector Reforms has stated that under the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) programme, about 160 million dollars is expected to be infused into the country's economy annually. He said the overall MCA investment was also expected to have an economic rate return of more than 20 per cent for the next 20 years while employment would be created for between 700,000 and 1,000,000 people.

These would include farmers, farm workers, employees and entrepreneurs in the supplying industries.

Dr. Nduom was addressing management, out-growers and farmers of the Integrated Tamale Fruit Company (ITFC) at Savelugu on Monday after a field trip to a major mango plantation of ITFC at Nanton in the Savelugu/Nanton District.

He said the MCA programme would also support an additional 1.54 million people, giving a total of over two million people who would benefit directly from the MCA investment, adding that the programme is expected to help reduce poverty by about five per cent during the first ten years of its implementation.

Dr. Nduom said, by the end of July this year, Ghana would receive a 500 million-dollar grant from the MCA, adding that 23 out of the 130 districts in the country including Savelugu/Nanton, would benefit from the grant.

He said from the Account, Savelugu mango farmers would be given credit facilities to expand their farms while irrigation facilities would also be provided and agricultural extension officers posted to the area to offer technical advice to the farmers.

Other social facilities to be provided include the provision of electricity, a vocational/technical institution and the upgrading of the roads leading to the mango plantations.

Mr Louis de Bruno Austin, General Manager of ITFC said the company had cultivated a 155-hectare mango plantation and employed 247 workers, 60 of whom are women.

He said the company paid an average of 900,000 cedis to each farmer cultivating an acre of mango and expressed the hope that within the next four years, farmers would be able to make an income of between 30 and 35 million cedis. The company, he said, was expected to harvest between six and 10 tonnes of mangoes this year, adding that future produce from the plantation would be exported to Holland. The chief of Nanton, Nanton-Na Alhassan Sulley, appealed to the Minister to include the construction of farmhouses for the farmers to encourage them to stay and take proper care of the farms. 03 April 06

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