Government has commended the contribution of the Hortifresh West Africa programme, which is a follow-up project to the GhanaVeg programme implemented in 2013, towards developing a competitive horticulture sub-sector in Ghana.
The Hortifresh programme improved the knowledge and income of over 15, 000 family farms, created over 3,000 jobs, adopted research results and certification and financing or more than 30 small and medium enterprises.
Dr Solomom Gyan Ansah, the Director of Agriculture, Directorate of Crop Services at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, made the commendation at the close out ceremony of the Hortifresh West Africa Programme in Accra.
The ceremony was used to launch two new reports on Greenhouse Cucumber and Tomato production.
The event was on the theme: “Sustaining Gains made for A Competitive Horticulture Sector.”
The programme was funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Accra and focused on the fruit and vegetable sectors in Ghana and Cote d’lvoire.
The programme has been implemented by a consortium of partners (SNV, Resilience, Advance Consulting and Sense and has been led by Wageningen University and Research.
He said the programme had impacted positively on people’s lives through the creation of sustainable livelihoods, improved access to inputs, finance, technical support, and access to the market.
The Director said some key outputs of their collaboration included the development of onion, mango, tomato, and peri-urban clusters as well as preparatory works towards the formation of the Horticulture Development Authority.
He said through agronomy training programmes, Hortifresh also strengthened the capacities of agricultural extension officers located in most of the farming areas.
“The programme also provided support for knowledge transfer from the trained agronomist to smallholder farmers in their areas of operations,” he said.
Dr Ansah said the government’s new direction for national development within the period 2017-2024 was to create the conditions for the Ghanaian private sector to propel growth and create ample employment opportunities, especially for the youth.
He said this required stabilising the economy and putting it on the path of strong, diversified and resilient growth.
The Director said strengthening of the horticulture sub-sector along the value chain with attention to value addition and market access was high on the Ministry’s developmental agenda, which it had been pursuing vigorously with its relevant partners.
He said the government recognized that the horticultural sub-sector played a crucial role in Ghana’s economy as it provided income, foreign exchange, employment and ensured food security.
“The sector also has the potential for diversifying Ghana’s export base,” he added.
Dr Irene Koomen, Coordinator Hortifresh programme said it had been a transformation programme, not only focusing on production or export but looking at many elements that contributed to the transformation of the sector.
She said the programme was implemented through various mechanisms, including three funds, the innovation, youth and cluster, access to finance, the enabling environment, emphasis on gender and nutrition and special studies.
Mrs Shelia Assibey-Yeboah, the Programme Manager, said the main objective includes improving productivity, facilitating more efficient markets, improving the business climate, professionalising the value chain, and linking actors with Dutch/European Union private sector.
She said over the years new norms were created, markets have shifted, government and private sectors had engaged more, and clear business processes now seem more efficiently organised.
The Programme Manager said over time the sector was responding better to initiatives put forward during implementation, “we, therefore, highly applaud the network of horticulture actors that you all have become, visionary, dynamic and resilient.”