Tuesday, 8 October 2013
Ghana has become the first country in the world to launch the national yam strategy for the development of the yam industry in the country.
The national yam strategy which puts yam in the spotlight as a key crop to help Ghana fight poverty, enhance food security, and improve the livelihoods and income of women and men engaged in the yam sector.
The launching which took place in a conference hall in Accra at the La palm royal beach hotel attracted a huge media attention including high level of dignitaries across the country and other parts of Africa and beyond.
Speaking during the launching Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture Hon. Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan disclosed the strategy envisions making Ghana the leading source of premium quality yam products with global penetration and contributing to an improved Ghanaian economy and livelihoods.
He noted one of the objectives of the strategy is to develop commercially-driven research and development as well as capacity building in yam value chain.
The economic value of the yam industry in Ghana has grown quite rapidly in recent years, with its foreign exchange earnings shooting up to the third position among the non-traditional export commodities in the period 2010 to 2012. Demand for yam in both fresh and processed forms is increasing in new markets abroad and domestically. The industry faces tremendous opportunities as well as challenges and requires support policies, private sector investment, and to become organized as a whole value chain.
Chairman of the Ghana Yam Strategy Committee, Mr Anthony Sikpa says despite the contribution of yam, the crop has not been given the right attention and according to him, is an issue the strategy aims to correct.
The Ghana Yam Strategy is a bottom-up policy process that started in 2012. It is a private sector-led road map championed by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture with the support of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection.
The International Trade Centre (ITC) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has provided technical support and process facilitation to help push the agenda to a successful end.
The platform includes approximately 200 stakeholders from the private sector, representing all areas of the industry, and support institutions (Ghana Standards Authority, Ghana Export Promotion Authority, Export Development and Agriculture Investment Fund, and National Development Planning Commission), commercial and development banks, research centers (CSIR, etc.), academia, and key ministries such as Trade, Agriculture, Finance, and Women and Children.
The Yam Sector Strategy aims at creating business and industry development with social impact while ensuring food security. It is based on five milestones:
• Increasing fresh yam exports;
• Developing a market for yam by-products and ingredients;
• Reinforcing domestic industry competitiveness;
• Promoting women-led yam business;
• Increasing income from yam and ensuring food security.
Perlin Gunesoglu, Chairperson for the Turkish Ghanaian Business Council for DeIk (the Turkish Foreign Economic Relations Board), observed that the strategy provided a platform for transforming the yam sector into a vibrant industry beyond but not excluding food security.
According to her, “The work being done in Ghana for yam is very valuable and can serve as an example for other countries trying to develop their sector looking at commercial as well as social objectives.”
Pelin pointed out that apart from yam as food, the crop can also be used in many different industries including food, paper, textiles, and adhesives, through value addition.
But to achieve a high level of value addition, she emphasized the need for support from the government on each step of the strategy, starting with farming and collection of yam genetic resources.