A flagbearer hopeful of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has urged investors to commit their capital into the country’s agricultural sector for good returns.
He said Ghana and the African continent were the world’s biggest hope for global food security by 2050, for which reason investments in the continent’s agricultural sector were the surest bet one could ever make on his or her investment.
Dr Akoto was delivering the keynote address at the African Investors Council Forum in Turkey last Tuesday, held on the theme “Agricultural Development and Investment Opportunities in Africa (Ghana as a case study).”
He assured investors of the country’s readiness to provide them with the conducive and enabling environment for their investment, stating that “Ghana and Africa are ready to receive your investment in this era of our agricultural transformation.”
According to Dr Akoto, despite the impacts of COVID-19 and the effects of climate change on agricultural production as well as political unrest across the continent, macroeconomic instability, and the raging debt crisis that many African governments face, the agricultural sector offered immense and significant opportunities for transforming Africa’s economy from a net importer of food to the provider of food to the rest of the world.
“It is time we stop perceiving Africa as a “potential” investment destination but as an “actual” investment choice for Regional Trade and Foreign Direct Investments. It is time to create more mutually beneficial opportunities for trade, investment and collaboration with the African continent. To achieve this would require collaboration and political will of international actors to provide a level playing field in global trade – making it more fair and mutually rewarding”, he asserted.
The former Food and Agricultural Minister highlighted the strong foundation he has laid for the West African nation’s agricultural sector, combining policies with regulations to achieve sustained rapid economic growth.
“Under my tenure as the Minister for Food and Agriculture in Ghana, in 2019, I initiated the establishment of the Tree Crop Development Authority under an Act of Parliament, Act 1010 which sought to coordinate and promote the development of six tree crops – cashew, rubber, oil palm, coconut, mango and Shea. The goal of the Authority is to develop, produce, and distribute the selected cash crop seedlings to farmers to produce and generate a combined potential of export earnings between US$6 to US$12 billion per year after 8-10 years of implementation. At their full development, the additional US$6 to US$12 billion per year in earnings can substantially increase the less than US$2billion annual earnings from cocoa, the current highest foreign exchange earner for Ghana for over a century”, he said.
Dr. Akoto further took his audience through the establishment of the National Cocoa Rehabilitation Program which was designed to put in measures to support the private sector to scale up cocoa production, expand local cocoa processing, promote market expansion of the export of cocoa products into new markets and for vigorous promotion to boost domestic and international consumption.
He also spoke highly of the construction of Greenhouse Training Centres with attached commercial units at Dawhenya, Akumadan and Bawjiase for the training of 537 youth in high-quality vegetable production.
“The creation of a Poultry Development Authority, Grains Development Authority (yet to be passed by Parliament) and the Horticultural Development Authority (at Cabinet) and a proposed legislation requiring all commercial banks to increase loanable funds to agriculture and its value chains are all veritable initiatives under my tenure to make the agric sector the brain hub to achieve Ghana’s economic independence and in other words wean itself from excessive borrowing”, he added.
Dr. Akoto, who is also a former two-time Member of Parliament for Kwadaso in the Ashanti Region said for agriculture to experience exponential growth in the African continent, much will depend on women who contribute to over 70% of food production.
He has therefore, charged African governments to prioritise investing in women in the agriculture sector.