Business News of 2014-03-20

Import reduction cannot be done overnight - Awuni

Mr John Awuni, Corporate Affairs Director of Finatrade Group of Companies on Wednesday stated that no country can stop or reduce importing foodstuff and other goods without investing heavily in the agricultural sector.

He said: If government would have to succeed in its pursuit to reduce the importation of rice, tomatoes, oil and sugar then appropriate infrastructure would have to be put in place to leverage the country’s comparative advantage.

Mr Awuni who said this during the induction ceremony of five Finatrade Foundation Scholars at the University of Ghana College of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences, said government also needed to step up the production of staple foods, in order to become self-reliant and a net exporter of such commodities.

Since 2004, Finatrade Foundation, the Corporate Social Responsibility wing of the Finatrade Group, had offered scholarships to a total of 203 brilliant but needy agricultural students in five state-owned Universities of the country.

It had also supported graduate agricultural students, supported various Universities to set up model farms, helped in the setting up of ICT centres, among other humanitarian support, to the Korle-Bu hospital and other facilities.

The annual scholarship of GH 700 per student had also been increased to GH 800, bringing the total amount spent on the scheme since its inception to two million Ghana Cedis.

Mr Awuni said government’s pursuit to drastically reduce the importation of rice, oil, sugar and other commodities was a step in the right direction, but could not be feasible until giant steps were taken to boost the agricultural sector.

He suggested to government to work hard to turn the staple foodstuff into export-led commodities, in order to stand firm to reduce the importation of such commodities.

He said: Until such structures were put in place, Ghanaians would continue paying lip-service to the sector that had over the years remained the backbone of the country. The Corporate Affairs Director gave the assurance that his outfit was committed to supporting the growth and development of agriculture, and would therefore continue to partner government and private individuals in the sector.

He challenged the beneficiary students to move a step ahead by venturing into entrepreneurship rather than perennially depending on the government sector for jobs. He said the demand for jobs had become competitive, and it was therefore, expedient for the graduates to establish their enterprises to distinguish themselves from other students.

Professor John Ofosu Anim- Dean of the College of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences, commended Finatrade Foundation for their support that had over the years spurred students on to perform creditably in their degree courses.

He said four out of the five students who benefitted from the scholarship, obtained first Class Honours last year, while the fifth student obtained Second Class Upper. Professor Anim pledged the College authorities' determination to play their roles responsibly, to help maintain the relations they had struck with Finatrade Foundation.

Source: GNA
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