By Kodjo Adams, GNA
Accra, March 15, GNA – The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) on Wednesday presented 60,000 hybrid seedlings to the Coconut Producers and Exporters Association (COPEA) under the ‘Coconut Exporters Revitalization Project’ in the Gomoa Odumasi in the Central Region.
The initiative is to support the Association to expand coconut production in the country and increase export volumes by addressing and strengthening supply chains of exportable products.
Madam Gifty Kekeli Klenam, GEPA Chief Executive Officer who handed over the seedlings said the project is aligned with government’s vision of industrialization, pillared on a strong agricultural sector.
Madam Klenam said the Authority’s key vision under the project was to diversify the export base to ensure that the country addresses price inconsistency in the external markets.
She stressed that the intervention was necessary as the projected world demand for coconut and its by-products was estimated to grow to 2.8 billion dollars by 2021.
She added that the strategic investment would yield multiple effect on the country’s support.
Madam Klenam said the project offers opportunities for value addition for both local and international markets and creating employment and business opportunities for the citizenry.
« Government will extend and expand the project to cover farmers in other coconut growing communities, replicating the model of symbiotic partnership where the exporters offer technology transfer and market access to the smallholder farmers, » she added.
She said the Authority was pursuing the project diligently in line with its mandate and had provided support to a number of agricultural value chains such as pineapple and cashew.
She said government was pleased with the commitment of smallholder farmers’ engagement in various value chains for exports. The farmers on their own initiative have developed farms and strengthened their production base.
She said the country had over the years collapse a number of firms set up to process coconut into desiccated, peat and coir for export as a result of the incidence of the Cape St. Paul Wilt Disease.
This according to the GEPA CEO played a serious challenges with the productivity in the sector adding that while the researchers have developed new varieties resistant to the disease, smallholder farmers have not been able to source these new varieties due to lack of resources.
She said this necessitated the Authority to come to the aid of the Association with the hybrid seedlings to address the challenges.
Mr Thomas Yaw Adjei Baffour, the Deputy Central Regional Minister said the project was timely because the Central Region holds the widest stretch of 164 kilometres in the country.
Mr Baffour noted that the Region would collaborate with the Authority and other stakeholders to ensure effective and efficient monitoring mechanism for the success of the project.
He encouraged the youth to venture into coconut farming since it was a lucrative business opportunity to earn better income to undertake their personal and development needs.
Mr Ofori Ampofo Acquaye, the President of COPEA commended the Authority for the gesture, adding that the initiative would encourage the youth to go into coconut farming and boost production.
He said the project would advance government initiative of One District One Factory and ‘Ghana Beyond Aid,’ appealing to government to support them with irrigation and logistics to ensure the success of the programme.
Mr Paul Klewiah, Leader of Out Grower Group appealed to government to negotiate with the Chiefs to reserve some of the lands for farming purposes since most of the lands are being sold to estate developers.
As part of the project launch, Madam Klenam and other dignitaries planted the Disease-Resistant Coconut Seedlings to start the project.