14 February 2014, Winneba, Ghana – Ghana and FAO have launched a Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) on cassava to enhance food security and incomes in selected cassava growing areas in Ghana.
The growing interest in the cultivation of the crop in recent times can be ascribed to the increasing realization by government and other stakeholders of its potential as a food security and emergence crop which could generate employment for the rural poor and foreign exchange for the country.
"The project on Empowering Cassava Value Chain Actors to Contribute to Increased Food, targets vulnerable farming communities particularly small scale farmers, small scale informal processors, cassava aggregators and possibly industrial enterprises engaged in processing cassava", said Dr. L. Thiombiano, FAO Representative in Ghana, at the launching ceremony, at Winneba in the Central Region.
"It will also draw on available information from past and current interventions and would not only aim at increasing cassava production, but also adding value to the produce through improved processing techniques and technologies, strengthened linkages to markets, which will invariably facilitate access to markets, financial credit and improved standard of living of the cassava farmers and processors", he added.
Cassava, as source of poverty alleviation
"The real concern of inadequate market access and value addition for the cassava value chain has been generally acknowledged in the ministry of food and Agriculture sector development policy as a bane to the rapid growth and development of the agriculture sector in Ghana" declared Minister of Food and Agriculture Mr Kofi Humado, in Winneba, today.
"It is envisaged that the immediate target beneficiaries will be about 2000 small holder farmers, processors, marketers and 90 field agricultural extension agents who will be trained as farmer facilitators to support the project with emphases on women and youth", the minister added.
The project aligns with the key objectives for the enhancement of cassava productivity under the current "Medium Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan (METASIP) which is the implementing tool of the Food and Agricultural Sector Development Policy (FASDEP II)"
In Ghana, cassava, one of the priority staple crops which, contributes 22 percent of the Agricultural Gross Domestic Product (AGDP) with an annual production above 10 million metric tonnes in the last decade.
Production and post-harvest processing of cassava contributes significantly to incomes and rural livelihoods for both men and women representing around one fifth of Ghana’s agricultural GDP.
Agriculture employs about 58% of the economically active population, contributing 40% of the GDP and 52.8% of export earnings. The sector also contributes to providing food and raw materials to meet the growing demand of the economy and plays a very crucial role in controlling inflation.
Agricultural policies give particular attention to the development of the cassava sector and the intensification of industrial processing to increase the value addition for cassava. This new Ghana/FAO joint initiative on cassava value chain aims at contributing to the Ghana Sheared Growth Development Authority GSGDA’s thematic areas of “Accelerated agricultural modernization and natural resource management” and ‘Mainstreaming decent employment issues into all levels of the development planning process’.
The two partners also signed two other TCP projects, namely, “Technical Assistance for the Strengthening of the Food System of Quinoa in Ghana” and “Support in Reviewing Animal Health and Production Legislation in Ghana”.