The Minister responsible for Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has said promoting and developing some six selected tree crops in Ghana have the economic potential of increasing the country’s agricultural earnings exponentially by some 15 Billion US Dollars annually.
The Agric Minister said his Ministry considers the development of tree crops as a key priority because the production of a single out of the six selected tree crops being promoted by the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) programme — cashew, oil palm, shea, coconut, mango and rubber can earn an average annual amount of US$ 2.5 Billion for the country.
Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto disclosed further that investing more in these six tree crops could rake in an estimated US$ 15 Billion a year for the government.
“The President wants to leave a legacy which will yield the country a long time benefit just like cocoa has given the country,” and it was for this reason that government inaugurated the Ghana Tree Crop Development Authority (TCDA) he said.
The TCDA has the mandate to coordinate and regulate the production, processing and trading of the six selected tree crops: Cashew, Shea, Mango, Coconut, rubber, and oil palm in Ghana
The Agric Minister made the disclosure at the Bono Regional Coordinating Council in Sunyani in the Bono Region on his second day of his regional tour on Tuesday, July 6, 2021.
During a tour of the Bono Region, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto met and interacted with farmers, input suppliers, extension and veterinary officers amongst others which meetings afforded him the chance to have first-hand information on challenges associated with their operations.
Monday, the first day of his tour in Goaso in the Ahafo Region, Dr Afriyie Akoto said government has resolved to turn its attention to the cultivation of more tree crops to ensure that the country rakes in the full benefit.
Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto tasked the District Director in-charge of Asunafo South, Kofi Senti, to, as a matter of urgency, ensure that irrigation facilities in the region were maintained to support this initiative by the government.
And though cashew production was making some progress in the region, he was disappointed at the breakdown of its processing plant at Mim. He promised that his ministry would ensure that the plant works again.
Dr Afriyie Akoto seized the chance to urge the regional agriculture directors to work with a sense of urgency to ensure that the investment made in both crops and animal production was realized.
He also tasked them to encourage more women in agriculture activities.
However, Inputs Dealers Association expressed worry about the rather slow supply of inputs.
Later, the minister and his entourage visited the Kenyasi Prison Farm of about 200 acres of land out a total of 600 acres and assured that his outfit would provide the needed machinery to uproot tree stumps to enable the expansion of the farm.
“We paid a courtesy call on the chief of Kenyasi who also complained about the road network”, he added.
Finally, the minister and his team interacted with some women who were into rice production, and promised to support them with machinery to enable them venture into large scale production.
Presenting the overall performance of both crops and animal production in the region, the Regional Director of Agriculture, Mr. Kingsford Nyame, observed that despite some progress made, both crops and animal production were faced with some challenges.
These challenges, he said, included the delay in the release of Modernizing Agriculture (MAG) funds to District Agriculture Development Units (DADUs) and fertilizers to district assemblies.
He said the above factors impacted the overall performance of crops and animal production in the region.
Inadequate veterinary staff members also contributed to the low output in the production of animals, he added.
The presentation however, was without the first quarter of 2021 crop yield. This did not sit well the minister who was obviously not happy.
According to Mr. Nyame, there was marginal increase in yields of crops like maize, cassava, rice, cocoyam, yam and plantain in 2020.
For instance, he disclosed that “in 2020, rice production recorded 22,028 as compared to 10,494 in 2019.”
Furthermore, the Ahafo regional director of agriculture said animal production in 2020 also saw some increment.
Poultry production, for example, he revealed, recorded a 37.7% increment which is 631,592 in 2020 compared to 393,772 in 2019.
“Sheep production recorded a 24% change with 47,202 in 2020 as compared to 35,756 in 2019,” he disclosed.