Moves to diversify the country's agricultural export capacity to include other tree crops with equal economic value to cocoa is brilliant and has the capacity to transform rural economies tremendously.
Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD), which is a collaboration between the Food and Agriculture Ministry (MoFA) in collaboration with the Local Government and Rural Development Ministry, if successfully implemented could rake in billions for the economy.
PERD is targeting six major tree crops - namely Coconut Rubber, Cashew, Oil Palm, Coffee and Shea; and is envisioned to generate over twelve billion dollars in export revenue. With the success cocoa has had for the Ghanaian economy over the years, it appears the time is ripe to explore other tree crops with the potential to garner crucial export revenue for the state.
The PERD is one component of government's agricultural flagship policy 'Planting for Food and Jobs' (PFJ), to ensure a successful implementation of this strategic programme MMDAs have been tasked to select cash tree crops based on the ecology of their area of rigorous development.
Oil Palm is tree crop that the country has not benefited from effectively, especially as Malaysia - a country that under-studied Ghana's oil palm industry - has shown how important to an economy the tree crop has been and continues to be.
Its industrial uses are tremendous, and cultivating it on large scale would not only reduce the country's importation of vegetable oil but also serve as a raw material base for other commodities like soap etc.
Additionally, news that the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem (KEEA) Municipal Assembly has distributed over 20,000 coconut seedlings to farmers in the municipality in support of the PERD programme is indicative of the potential game-changer that this agriculture model holds for the economy.
There is potential for the export of coconut and its by-products, and this move is in the right direction as the Assembly (KEEA) was once noted for the coconut plantations that lined its coast - but erosion and neglect have since seen this reduced massively.
PERD could help reinvigorate the tree crop sector, which can be exported to generate revenue for the state since that is where the country's comparative advantage lies. Let us ensure that this model is implemented successfully, so as to transform rural economics and provide better incomes for rural folk.