Focus on agriculture to reap benefits of AfCFTA – Ghana urged
Agriculture, particularly, food trade remains one of the
important areas Ghana should focus on to harness the benefits of the Africa
Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) recently adopted by African heads of
state, Interim Regional Head, West Africa of the Africa Green Revolution
Alliance (AGRA), Forster Boateng has said.
To this end, he has called on the government to put in place
the necessary infrastructure, technological and digital systems and policy initiatives
to help increase the food production of small-holder farmers in the country.
Mr Boateng said this in an interview with journalists after
a private sector breakfast meeting for the players in the agricultural value
chain in the country on the upcoming African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) to
be held in Ghana at the Accra International Conference Centre.
The programme, the tenth in the series since 2006, slated
for September 3-6, 2019 will be held on the theme, ‘The role of private sector
in agribusiness value chain digitisation.’
Mr Boateng explained that as an agrarian economy, with
abundant water resources and fertile lands, the food sector was one of the low
hanging fruits the country could pluck under the AfCFTA.
The AfCFTA is an initiative to provide duty and quota free
access to markets in Africa, and is expected to create a market of about 1.2
billion people and a combine Gross Domestic Product of $3 trillion.
Turning his focus on the 2019 AGRF, Mr Boateng said the
programme was to bring together experts to brainstorm and explore investment
and networking opportunities during the upcoming event.
He said the new strategic direction of AGRA, after investing
more than $60-million in small-holder agriculture in the past ten years in the
areas of research, inclusive financing and extension services, was to leverage
private sector investment to promote agriculture in Africa.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto
who spoke on the theme of the programme, in a speech read on his behalf said
the private sector had a huge role to play to address the financing challenges
in the agricultural sector.
He said Africa’s population was estimated to reach 10
billion and this presented opportunity as well as a challenge to the continent
in terms of meeting the food needs for the people.
This, Dr Afriyie said digital technology would play a critical
role in boosting food production in Africa, and pledged that government would
continue in mechanising agriculture in the country.
The President of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and
Industry, Nana Appiagyei Dankawoso I, in a speech read on his behalf lauded the
AGRA for the programme and commended government for the initiatives it had
taken over the years to promote agriculture.