The Bono East regional directorate of the Department of Agriculture has embarked on a programme to link up agriculture value chain operators in the Atebubu-Amantin, Pru East and Pru West districts with the objective of transforming agriculture into a lucrative business venture.
Dubbed ‘business partnership and market linkage’ the initiative will see value chain operators in rice and maize production from the 3 districts namely: farmers, input dealers, off-takers, transporters and processors form individual groups under an umbrella body that will take decisions and act in the collective interest of members.
Welcoming participants from the 3 districts to a day’s meeting in Atebubu, the Atebubu-Amantin municipal director of the department Mr. George Amanyo implored participants to take the exercise very seriously adding that agriculture is a dignified business.
He said the time has come to move from the concentration on increased production to the exploration of marketing opportunities to better the lot of the ordinary farmer as well as other value chain operators.
The Bono East regional director of agriculture, Mrs Cecelia Kagya Agyemang said the programme will have individual districts in the region undertake similar exercises in crop areas of comparative advantage or preference with the well-being of the farmer as the primary motive.
She said agriculture is the source of livelihood for most Ghanaians especially the rural folk and any move to improve it will help make beneficiaries and their dependents self-sufficient and secured for the future.
The regional director said the programme will involve the signing of a memorandum of understanding among the value chain operators which will among others specify timelines for production and market capacity to ensure a ready market for farmers produce.
Mrs. Agyemang enumerated some of the benefits of the programme to include: the reduction in glut and post-harvest losses, ready market for farmers, guaranteed source of income for farmers and an improved well-being for farmers.
She said this will in turn make farming attractive to the youth and help reduce the high rate of unemployment in the country.
Participants identified some of the benefits of group formation as maintenance of a united front, increased bargaining power on the market and easier access to loans from financial institutions.
They also advocated for standardization in weights and measures for the sale of both rice and maize to prevent exploitation by middle-men.
Present were Messrs. Stephen Aidoo and Bawa Amidu from the regional directorate of agriculture as well as officers from the 3 affected districts.
Source: Daniel Oduro-Stewart, Contributor ghanaweb.com