Industry players call for increased value addition in the agricultural sector

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Fri, 19 Nov 2021 Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Create an economic environment for agriculture

Develop a holistic approach to address agricultural challenges

Agricultural investments to increase its market

Stakeholders at the 8th Regional Network of Agricultural Policy Research Institutes’ (ReNAPRI) annual conference reiterated the importance of aggressive promotion of large-scale commercial agriculture by increasing the application of technology-driven measures.

This they believe should run through the entire food chain system.

They argued that the significant integration of technology and digital measures into agricultural production will transform it from a subsistence practice to a modern economic endeavor.

Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto noted that, currently, Africa spends nearly US$40 billion on food imports including commodities that could grow well on the continent, hence, the need to redirect these resources to improve food value chains in a way that is environmentally sustainable and inclusive where the youth are concerned.

He also said that the agricultural policy research institutes on the continent must help African governments select from climate-smart agricultural options.

“The objective here is to ensure that technologies promoted through our agriculture and the food systems as a whole help Africa to protect the environment and, at the same time, help mitigate the impacts of climate change on agriculture.”

“It is my hope that deliberations during this 8th ReNAPRI conference will generate valuable knowledge for policy use on reducing food losses and food waste; developing food provisioning policies to inform the implementation of healthy food services in government food procurement systems such as school feeding, hospitals, and prisons, and also on increasing production of climate-resilient varieties of diverse vegetables and legumes, fruits and bio-fortified staple crops using sustainable agricultural practices,” he said.

The ReNAPRI Conference hosted by the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) was under the theme ‘Sustainable Food Systems Transformation and Resilience in Africa’

Director of ISSER, Prof. Peter Quartey said the agriculture sector must be harnessed to add much value, employ more, and provide more foreign exchange even better than it was during the pre-COVID-19 era.

“There’s the need to invest more in the agriculture sector, in some cases, subsidizing certain productions like fertilizers, and supporting the value chain, be it processing, marketing, distribution, and moving the sector from traditional methods to technological measures and investing in large farming to make it beneficial and attractive, capable of employing more unemployed youths,” he added.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo stated that “Many people, especially smallholder farmers, see the practice of agriculture as an activity for survival rather than a viable business or economic enterprise. While there is evidence that this narrative is changing, there is the need for a deliberate policy stimulus to quicken the pace of this paradigm shift,”

This, she believes, will attract investors to Ghana’s agriculture sector.

In addressing distribution challenges, she noted that most of Africa’s agricultural products are produced in rural areas, usually far from the city hence poor road networks, inadequate logistics, and high cost of transportation, as well as hauling of agricultural goods from the production centers to market centers is often difficult. This in turn affects the market prices and poses harsh post-harvest losses.

Prof. Appiah Amfo suggested a deliberate policy intervention that targets the improvement of infrastructure in areas where agriculture is widespread to enhance improve economies of scale, smoothen the value chain, and enhance food security and economic growth.

“Safe transport and storage, effective packaging, labeling, and marketing enable households to have access to healthy food,” she added.

Source: www.ghanaweb.com