Tamale, May 30, GNA – Government has launched the Ghana Agricultural Sector Investment Programme (GASIP), to contribute to sustainable poverty reduction in rural areas and ensuring that agribusinesses increase their profitability and resilience to climate change.
GASIP, a six-year programme, being implemented by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), is co-financed by the government and the International Fund for Agricultural Development to the tune of 113 million dollars, and co-financing, is being sought from other development partners in the agricultural sector.
Alhaji Mohammed-Muniru Limuna, Minister of Food and Agriculture, who launched GASIP in Tamale, said it forms part of government’s efforts to address challenges facing agriculture in the country to boost production and reduce poverty.
GASIP, would publish a call for proposals and would competitively evaluate agribusiness development proposals from all qualified parties from private, public, civil society, research, farmer based organisations amongst others and select and support those that show promise to positively impact on smallholders and ultimately on the country’s economy.
Alhaji Limuna said: GASIP would employ tools and instruments such as technology and extension support, matching grants to purchase agricultural machinery and equipment, value chain infrastructure such as feeder roads, irrigation schemes, warehouses, and pack houses, and access to finance through linkages to financial institutions to support agribusiness and farmer based organizations.
He said MoFA’s priority areas would centre on attracting the youth and women into agriculture adding: “We are finding ways to make agriculture attractive to the youth while ensuring gender-sensitivity in our interventions and policies.”
Mr Roy Ayariga, National Programme Coordinator of GASIP said the strategic focus would be on smallholder farmers to make them more competitive by increasing their capacity to respond to market demand in terms of quality, price, time and volume, thus contributing to the objectives of the Medium Term Agricultural Sector Improvement Programme.
The Minister visited Avnash Rice Processing Plant in Tamale and appealed to the Management to purchase quantities of rice produced locally.
He expressed concern about the fact that 2014, produce had remained at the various warehouses of farmers following concerns of poor quality of the produce.
He also visited Tibzaa Company, a livestock farm, which is a beneficiary under the government’s Northern Rural Growth Programme, at Lahagu, a suburb of Tamale to learn about its operations and challenges and assured the corporate entity of government’s continued support to boost its operations.