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Ghana Agricultural News Digest – June 13, 2016

2016 June 13
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by Gladys Baaba Arhin

Below are some current developments on agriculture in Africa:

Media Reports
Time for Agric Insurance - Minister
The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan has admitted that an institutionalised insurance agriculture scheme will go a long way to improve the agric sector and make it attractive to investors. Dr. Alhassan said it was about time insurance companies designed policies for the agric sector  as the country is experiencing less than 30 percent of rainfall than it did a decade ago, which according to him was due to the effects of climate change. He added that the risks associated with agriculture were high for farmers hence the need for insurers to seriously consider insurance packages for the agric sector. His comments followed an earlier statement by the Member of Parliament for Nsawam-Adoagyiri constituency, Frank Annoh-Dompreh, who proposed an amendment to the Insurance Act, 2006 to include insurance for agriculture, especially for farmers and their farm produce. Mr. Annoh Dompreh argued: “Without agriculture, roads wouldn’t have been built, without agriculture hospitals, schools, good drinking water wouldn’t have been there”. “Mr. Speaker, how do you sustain agriculture moving or going forward? One area is agricultural insurance or farmers’ insurance.”…

Pineapple Business Thrives, Improving Communities and Inspiring Workers
A World Bank-supported project has helped Gold Coast Fruits become the fourth-largest pineapple exporter in Ghana Funds from the project paid for a consultant from Costa Rica to train farmers in fertiliser use, weeds maintenance, chemical application and drainage systems. The company’s success has had a positive impact on its workers and their communities through its support of social, environmental and economic development projects. For nearly eight years, farmers at the Gold Coast Fruits pineapple farm would plant row after row of pineapple plantlets across nearly 400 hectares of land, manually weed and fertilise them every three weeks, and wait. When it came time to harvest the pineapples more than a year later, instead of the plump, juicy, sweet fruit they expected, the farmers found crops of diseased plants; pineapples with high water levels, low sugar content or high acidity; and fruit that was too small to sell. At most, the farm would lose 40% of its crop. “During the rainy season, if you lose just an inch of top soil, then you lose the majority of the nutrients,” said Richard Kudjonu, manager of fair trade education at the farm. “The pineapples will not be as heavy and the quality won’t be as great in terms of taste and physical appearance. What you put in is what you get out.”…

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Ghana Agricultural News Digest – June 6, 2016

2016 June 6
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by Gladys Baaba Arhin

Below are some current developments on agriculture in Africa:

Media Reports
Coffee Sector at the Cross-roads
The country’s coffee sector is at a vital crossroad as it remains to be seen if government will keep its word to increase production from 6,000 metric tonnes currently to 100,000 metric tonnes per annum in the short- to medium-term, to take advantage of rising global demand. Government’s promise to revive the sector is in keeping with growth in global demand for coffee, specifically from the Asian market. As part of the plan five million improved early maturing and high yielding coffee seedlings are being raised to be distributed freely to farmers interested in growing the crop. “With an average yield of 2 to 3 metric tonnes per hectare and with a projected planting area of 100,000 hectares over the next six years, it is estimated that from 2020 onward about 100,000 metric tonnes of coffee can be produced annually in this country, which will subsequently increase to about 200,000 metric tonnes over the next decade,” President Mahama said in February. “This number will be substantially increased annually to ensure that we achieve the 100,000 hectares of coffee farms in the targetted locations by 2020.” The plan will be backed with readily available marketing channels for farmers, and coffee-growing will coexist with the cocoa industry without sacrificing the interests of cocoa farmers…

Inadequate Processing Mills Hampering Rice Production
Efforts at increasing local rice production to curb over-reliance on importation of the commodity to meet local consumption demand is being undermined by lack of adequate infrastructure—specifically rice processing mills—in rice-producing communities of the country, Food and Agriculture Minister Alhaji Mohammed Limuna has indicated. Currently, farmers in the three northern regions have their harvest for 2014/2015 farming seasons—thousands of bags of rice—locked up in warehouses due to the unavailability of mills to process the commodity, a situation that has compelled the farmers to use manual means of rice processing which do not meet market demand. According to the minister, the situation is an impediment to government’s quest to motivate rice farmers into boosting local production of the commodity to cushion food security, aside from robbing the farmers of their primary source of livelihood. He said: “Lack of rice-processing plants in the Northern Region is making it difficult to produce to feed the nation and produce quality rice that meets market specifications….

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Ghana Agricultural News Digest – May 31, 2016

2016 May 31
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by Gladys Baaba Arhin

Below are some current developments on agriculture in Africa:

Media Reports
US$113m Agric Project Launched
A US$113million Ghana Sector Investment Programme (GASIP) to promote and scale-up agricultural value chains in the country has been launched in Tamale. The six-year project funded by the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) - a United Nations Food Agency - and implemented by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) is aimed at supporting infrastructure development, technology transfer, conservation farming and research to ensure the production of quality food crops to meet demands of the market. It is also geared toward providing a framework and institutional basis for a long-term engagement and supplementary financing for scaling-up investment in private sector-led pro-poor agricultural value chain development, as well as linking up smallholder farmers to agribusinesses to enhance growth.  It is expected that GASIP will help contribute to the realisation of Ghana’s medium-term agricultural sector investment (METASIP) and help about 12,000 rural households, particularly women and young people, to improve their economic activities and livelihoods …

AYNAT Encourages Youth to Venture into Agric
The African Youth Network for Agricultural Transformation (AYNAT) has held a youth policy dialogue aimed at encouraging the youth to see agriculture as a life-long occupation. The forum brought together more than 70 participants to empower them to go into agribusiness, and was on the theme ‘Implementing Ghana’s Youth Policy on Agriculture, defining a Pragmatic Approach’. It was organised with financial support from the Africa Lead of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). AYNAT is a network made up of young people trained by Africa Lead II at its champions for change leadership in agriculture workshop. It is devoted to ensuring that a proportion of the African population arms itself with skills and knowledge to make significant contributions and champion the transformation of Ghanaian and African agriculture, through capacity building, policy advocacy and research. Dr. Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, a Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, speaking at the event explained that agriculture is the most important instrument for government and has the greatest potential for solving youth unemployment …

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Ghana Agricultural News Digest – May 17, 2016

2016 May 17
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by Gladys Baaba Arhin

Below are some current developments on agriculture in Africa:

 Africa Lead Trains Students to Champion Agricultural Transformation
A US support capacity building programme, Africa Lead, has organised leadership course for students from Ashesi University to champion new solutions for aggressive agricultural transformation to guarantee food security and improved livelihoods. The session sought to inspire, energise and mobilise innovative leaders, champions and thinkers in Ghana and Africa who are committed to create new approaches to attaining food security with the youth at the forefront of the change process. Around 40 students received the week-long training done within the new economic partnership for African development framework - Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme. The partnership, requires African countries [leaders] to allocate 10 per cent of their annual budgets to support agriculture and raise food production. Ms. Carla Denizard, Regional Director of West and Central Africa Lead, said champions for change is one of the nine different networks created, including women groups to lead vigorous …

Government Signs Agreement with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
Ghana has signed an agreement with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), a non-profit research organisation, to provide legal status to the Institute’s operations in the country. The agreement, in line with the country's laws, provides key reliefs, including exemptions for communication and transportation controls. Dr Tia Alfred Sugri, Deputy Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, said the establishment of IITA West Africa Hub in the country will benefit the tourism sector as officials of IITA will be drawn from various countries to access research facilities. It will as well benefit farmers through individual and institutional capacity enhancement in science and technology, improved farm productivity and profitability. Dr Sugri said IITA’s presence would involve more Ghanaian researchers, extension agents, technicians, farmers, traders and other value chain actors to work together and enhance development ...

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Ghana Agricultural News Digest – April 25, 2016

2016 April 25
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by Gladys Baaba Arhin

Below are some current developments on agriculture in Africa:

Harvesting Cassava in a Minute with TEK Mechanical Harvester
The pain and energy together with lots of time spent in harvesting cassava manually will soon be solved. This is because, a device developed by an agricultural engineer at the Agricultural Engineering Department of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) offers the solution to take away long time and labour that are associated with the process involved in manually harvesting the tuber crop. The device, called TEK Mechanical Cassava Harvester, simply assists farmers in harvesting roots and tuber crops in Ghana and sub Saharan Africa. Locally produced at the KNUST, led by Prof Emmanuel Bobobee, the TEK mechanical cassava harvester is an innovative device developed to commercialise large scale cassava production in Ghana and sub Saharan Africa. It is a tractor drawn device which must be attached to a tractor (at the back) to function. This innovative comes at a point in time when there is low level of engineering technology inputs into agriculture which is hindering modernization of agriculture and food production in Ghana and rests of Africa…

Government Calls for Stakeholders’ Meeting on Water
A Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr. Jonny Osei Kofi, has called for an emergency stakeholders’ meeting to address the water stress in the country resulting from the massive pollution of the country’s water bodies. “We should be able to call for a stakeholders’ meeting. I wouldn’t want the meeting to take place anywhere but the Flagstaff House, so that it does not appear as if it is one ministry’s problem or another because it is a national problem,” he said. Mr. Osei Kofi, who was speaking to research scientists at a Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) symposium on the state of Ghana’s water bodies, tasked the leadership of the research institution to arrange a meeting of stakeholders in the water sector at the Presidency in about 14 days to chart a way forward in the water sector…

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