A former Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has said he personally approached the World Bank to provide funding to support the Tree Crop Development Authority (TCDA), knowing the potential of its revenue base and how it could change the economic fortunes of Ghana.
According to him, he embarked on that move because of the slow pace at which the government was disbursing the seed money of $5million every year for the first three years of the establishment of the TCDA, making it $15million.
Dr Akoto, who is also one of the NPP presidential hopefuls, made this known when he addressed a cross-section of journalists in Accra yesterday.
“As at the first three years of the establishment of the TCDA, only $3million had been disbursed to the Authority, making it woefully inadequate for its operations”, he stressed.
The TCDA was established by an Act of Parliament, 2019 (Act 1010), to develop and regulate the tree crop sub-sector and to provide for related matters.
It is the main body spearheading the Tree Crop Diversification Project (TCDP).
He said based on that, the World Bank saw his vision as something that could easily make Ghana a prosperous country, if that particular authority was taken good care of.
His reaction follows the announcement on June 23, 2023, in Washington DC by the International Development Association of the World Bank that it had approved $200million financing facility for the Government of Ghana for its TCDP.
The facility was to support the Government of Ghana to diversify and grow its economy through modernising agriculture to accelerate productivity, resilience, and industrialisation.
The financing is projected to directly benefit 12,800 cocoa farmers and 39,975 cashew, coconut, and rubber farmers, and their households.
An additional 20,000 jobs are expected to be created in downstream value addition by mobilising private capital.
Nearly 40 per cent of on-farm beneficiaries will be women.
The TCDP, being spearheaded by the TCDA, will see the development of the six tree crops namely; cashew, rubber, shea, oil palm, mango and coconut, including cocoa itself, being prioritised by the government.
The combined growth of these six tree crops is projected to earn Ghana between US$ 6 billion to US$12 billion annually after six or seven years of implementation.
The financing of the Tree Crop Diversification Project will further support demand-driven research and enhance on-farm productivity and resilience to improve the productivity, profitability, and climate resilience in the cocoa, cashew, coconut, and rubber value chains.
Commenting further on the facility, Dr Akoto, who is a former two-term Member of Parliament (MP) for Kwadaso, lauded the International Development Association for extending the financial support to the TCDP.
He expressed the belief that the $200million injected into the TCDP would speed up the activities of the TCDA, an action, he underscored, was the surest way to salvage the country’s economic woes.
Citing the situation in Ivory Coast, Dr Akoto said a total annual export earnings from five cash crops – cashew, cocoa, coffee, rubber and oil palm, fetched the economy some US$8billion every year.
Dr Akoto also commended the current Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Bryan Acheampong, for continuing from where he left off with the introduction of the second phase of the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative.