Root and Tuber to be Improved
2007-08-03 21:40:25This article has been read 846 times.The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), launched its Root and Tuber Improvement and Marketing Programme (RTIMP) at Navrongo in the Upper East Region.
Themed: "Building Competitive and Market-Based Root and Tuber Commodity Chains", the launch attracted farmers from the four participating districts of the programme, namely Nkwanta, West Gonja, Nanumba and Kassena-Nankana.
The cost of implementing the RTIMP is estimated at about 27.6 million dollars or approximately 27 million Ghana Cedis, which would be provided jointly by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the government of Ghana, the private sector and beneficiary communities.
Its objective is to enhance farmers’ incomes, promote food security and improve the livelihoods of people in the rural areas. For farmers in the Kassena-Nankana District and other parts of the Upper East Region, sweet potato is the crop recommended for concentration under the programme.
Giving an overview of the RTIMP Mr Kweku Anane, specialist in commodity chain linkages and Acting Co-ordinator of the Programme, noted that in the pursuit of poverty reduction government had seen the need to place emphasis on the cultivation of root and tuber crops because it was an area that engaged a greater segment of the rural population.
Mr Anane said the main focus of the RTIMP included the development of high yielding varieties of potato and other tuber crops for planting, educating farmers on integrated pest management, processing and marketing the produce to put money in the pockets of farmers in the rural communities.
He said the Programme would be implemented in 14 districts during the first two years, after which 10 more districts would be added each year till all 138 districts in the country were covered.
A marketing specialist on the Programme, Dr Mensah Aboampah, said through a Marketing Grant Lease to be operated with the rural banks, farmers would be assisted with credit to enable them to purchase equipment for milling dried potato and cassava into flour.
"This would add value to the commodity and open up more avenues for marketing."
He urged farmers to form co-operative groups to facilitate the implementation of the Programme.
The Regional Director of MOFA, Mr Roy Ayariga, urged Ghanaians to patronise locally grown food, which was of higher nutritional value than most of the imported varieties some of which had been stored for several years and had
"Besides, until we learn to consume our own food the rural farmers would continue to be poor since there would be no market for their farm produce," he added.
In a keynote address read on his behalf the outgoing Regional Minister, Mr Boniface Gambila, observed that most poverty reduction initiatives brought to the area earlier were unable to achieve the desired impact because they lacked the requisite back-up components that would make them viable.
He was, however, optimistic about the success of RTIMP, which he described as a holistic intervention involving the building of farmers’ capacities "from cultivation to processing and marketing,"
Mr Gambila urged District Assemblies to support farmers to go into the cultivation of root and tuber crops, as those had the potential to generate employment and income for people in the rural communities.
In a welcoming address, the Kassena-Nankana District Chief Executive (DCE), Mr Emmanuel Chegeweh, noted that even though agricultural production in the country had recorded a phenomenal increase in the past eight years, there had been no corresponding improvement in the marketing of food produce.
"This situation is further worsened by the farmers’ inability to store excess produce to add value to them for better prices during the lean season, the DCE added.
He urged farmers in the Region to break away from the over-reliance on maize, millet, groundnuts and other legumes and diversify into the large-scale cultivation of potato and yam to enhance food security as well as earn extra income