Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minster of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), says the Government is determined to diversify the agriculture sector to generate more revenue for national development through six tree-crops.
He said though the country derived enormous benefit from cocoa, tree crops such as mango, rubber, cashew, oil palm, coconut, and shea, equally had the potential to serve as a major source of additional revenue generation.
The Minister, therefore, charged the Tree Crop Development Authority (TCDA), during their inauguration in Accra, to ensure that they put in much effort to generate the expected $15 billion from the six tree crops.
Dr Akoto said: “Each of the six tree-crops in the next eight to 10 years should give us two and a half billion dollars, which makes a total of $15 billion, and there is no activity in Ghana, which has such an ambitious target.”
He added that: “I don’t think any Board has been given such an ambitious target like this as you’re supposed to. It is, therefore, a huge responsibility for you to, in the next eight to ten years develop these selected tree crops to a level where the country will be earning as much foreign exchange as cocoa.”
The Minister was optimistic that with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), there would be the opportunity to add value to the raw materials form the tree crops for ready market on the continent.
Mr Stephen Sekyere-Abankwa, Chairperson of the Board, thanked the President for reposing confidence in them and assured that they were prepared to work tirelessly to make his vision of “Ghana beyond Aid” a reality.
He said the Board would pursue programmes and policies that would attract huge investments in the tree crop sub-sector and with proper management, the country would be able to generate between $5 billion and $10 billion annually.
Mr Sekere-Abankwa said: “When this happens then this project will be a game changer that will give meaning to the President’s vision of Ghana beyond Aid.”
He was optimistic of the Board’s ability to achieve the goal, nothing that though the project was a government initiative, the Authority was dominated by private sector players who were farmers, processors, traders and had interest in seeing the sector thrive.
He called on the Minister, to continuously avail himself for support whenever the need arose.
Mr William Quaittoo, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Authority, said they would be guided by a four-pillar strategic effort to achieve the task given to them.
He said they would embark on a digitisation agenda to register all farmers in tree cropping for effective planning; engage in research; capacity building and an strengthen mechanisms to increase production of the six tree crops.
The Board, chaired by Mr Stephen Sekyere-Abankwa, also has Mr Michael Okere Baafi, as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), with representatives from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, and Ministry of Finance, together with four representatives each from the six tree crop sectors.