The program dubbed “GhanaVeg on the theme: Investing in Ghana’s Vegetable Boom” is an initiative of the Netherlands Government and the Ghanaian counterparts which seeks to commercialize vegetable production in Ghana has been launched at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel in Accra on the 8th April, 2014
The four million Euros program which runs for three years is geared towards helping farmers produce quality and healthy vegetables from Ghana through new improved methods.
Speaking during a press conference to launch the program, Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana His Excellency Mr. Hans Docter emphasized the changing relations between the Netherlands and Ghana.
In his speech he noted Ghana’s economy is growing rapidly and has already reached lower middle income status
“We are moving away from a traditional aid relationship, towards a regular trade partner” he said.
The GhanaVeg program is a case in point for this changing relationship. In the horticultural sector Ghana and the Netherlands are natural partners because of Ghana’s rapidly growing demand for huge-quality vegetables and huge potential for exports while Netherlands because of it’s the second biggest exporter of vegetables in the world.
According to him, Netherlands has a lot to offer to Ghana in terms of technology and knowledge which can benefit the entire vegetable sector of Ghana. “Another important element of the Dutch program in Ghana is the emphasis on the private sector; the vegetable sector”. Supporting the private sector’s capacity to deliver quality products and services is at the heart of the GhanaVeg program.
Ghana’s Vegetable sector offers great opportunities for growth given the steady increase of high-value domestic markets and export opportunities. The domestic market alone is growing at more than 10% per year and the potential value for export vegetables is estimated at US$250 million. In addition, Ghana is still importing US$85 million worth of millions that can easily be produced in Ghana itself. In order to achieve this, the competitiveness of the sector needs to improve. This requires investments and innovations but also improvements in business climate, from credit availability to quality inspection services and from improved export logistics to faster and cheaper importation of agricultural inputs.
Mr. Samuel Asante Mensah, the President of the Ghana Institute of Horticulturalists and Chairman of the GhanaVeg Advisory Board, in his speech, emphasized the importance of collaboration between the private sector, research and the public sector to make the program a success. “In order to solve the key bottlenecks that affect the vegetable sector we need a concerted effort of all stakeholders. The private sector is clearly in the lead for seizing the enormous opportunities both for exports and a booming domestic market. At the same time, the support from research institutes and government offices is essential for solving sector-wide issues and improving the business climate.” Mr. Samuel Asante-Mensah further called upon the banking sector to support the vegetable sector with attractive loans especially for investments with a longer timeframe than one year. “A further take-off of investments in the vegetable e sector requires a better availability of finance to fund good business plans”.
The program’s mission is to establish a sustainable and internationally competitive vegetable sector. GhanaVeg is driven by a strong belief in healthy and quality vegetables from Ghana through new ways of doing business. The initiative targets the high-end domestic and international markets: e.g. high-end supermarkets, hotels, restaurants and exports.
Practically the program aims at:
- – Attracting and supporting frontrunner companies in the entire sector: from input supply to processing and from farming to retail and logistics.
- – Stimulating technical innovations by the private sector through improving linkages between companies and research centers.
- – Assisting the sector with evidence-based information to support investment decisions and facilitate discussions for improving the business climate.
- – Encourage more investments and trade in Ghana’s vegetable sector from the Netherlands and the EU at large.
Mrs. Catherine Krobo-Edusei Benson, managing Director of Eden Tree, a high-end vegetable wholesaler, emphasized the importance of seeking new ways of doing business. “Business as usual is not going to provide us with quality, healthy vegetables that the market requires. We should move towards new ways of doing business, working closely together with vegetable farmers to ensure good water and pesticide use” Food safety is at the core of GhanaVeg and activities that focus on farm certification can be supported under the program. Mrs. Krobo-Edusei Benson further expressed her enthusiasm about the prospects of Ghana’s vegetable sector. Over the last years we have seen double digit growth in the demand for quality vegetables. We expect that this will continue in the next years due to the economic growth of the country. Currently, I cannot get enough vegetables to supply all my customers.”
The GhanaVeg program is implemented by the centre for Development Innovation (CDI) of Wageningen UR with support from the international Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) and the Netherlands African Business council (NABC).
During the event three calls for proposals for the Business Opportunity and R&D Innovation Funds were launched. The Funds provide co-financing for innovative business ideas and new technologies that increase productivity and quality of vegetables.
The first business opportunity call targets proposals from the Vegetable Seed Industry, supporting seed companies to increase the availability of quality seeds in the sector and provide follow-up support to farmers to make the most of seeds.
The third call, part of the R&D innovation fund, focuses on testing and developing new technologies in the vegetable input supply sector, in terms of: irrigation systems, soil fertility managements, the introduction new crop varieties and support for better crop protection products.