The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has launched a three-year programme to provide a three-pronged assistance, including credit to farmers in the Savannah agro-ecological zone, to cultivate seven selected staple crops.
The Market-Oriented Agricultural Programme (MOAP) hinges on developing the capacity of farmers and other relevant public institutions, as well as the introduction of improved seeds which are also environmentally friendly to sustain the Savannah ecosystem.
The third leg of the €160-million project is the provision of social amenities and infrastructural facilities to raise the quality of life of the people of the targeted areas.
The European Union (EU) and the German government are financing the programme, targeted at farmers who grow groundnuts, soya, rice, sorghum, vegetables, cashew and mango in 11 districts in the Upper West Region and three adjoining districts in the Northern Region.
Already, €20 million has been released for the capacity-building segment of the programme to start.
A Minister of State at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Dr Nurah Gyiele, launched the programme in the Upper West Regional capital, Wa, last Saturday.
He listed the three adjoining beneficiary districts in the Northern Region as Sawla-Tuna-Kalba, North Gonja and Mamprugu Moagduri.
According to stakeholders of the programme, its implementation would ensure that horticultural produce from the country complied with standards in the EU market, while providing food security, jobs and improving the local environment.
Dr Gyiele noted that for a long time the country’s international trade had been hindered by the poor quality of products.
“In addition, quality standards of our agricultural produce are limiting agricultural trade and access to international markets, while value addition for the produce remains very limited,” he said.
He said the government had introduced various interventions, such as the Planting for Food and Jobs policy, not only to ensure food security but also address challenges of poor quality.
He commended the EU for the support, which was important in bridging the developmental gap between the northern and the southern zones.
For his part, the Ambassador of the EU Delegation, Mr William Hanna, stressed the need to develop the agricultural sector, which he said was the motivator of change in any nation.
She said all the 28 EU-member states fully supported the programme, since the targeted zones abound in vast potential.
A representative of the German Embassy, Mr Bernhard Abels, noted that in its 60-year cooperation with Ghana, Germany had worked on various projects which had assisted to uplift the livelihoods of the people.
The Upper West Regional Minister, Alhaji Sulemana Alhassan, expressed the hope that the farmers would hold fast to the programme and pay back credit extended to them.
He assured them of the necessary support, adding that all the extension agents who would be attached to the programme would be provided with the necessary logistics to enhance their duties.