HortiFresh: Program to boost horticultural production and exports in West Africa launched
In a bid to boost horticultural production and promote commercial fruit and vegetable sector development in Ghana and Ivory Coast, the HortiFresh West Africa programme has been launched at the plush La Palm Royal Beach Resort on Thursday September 20, 2018 in Accra.
The program which aims at establishing a sustainable and internationally competitive fruit and vegetable sector that contributes to inclusive economic growth, food and nutrition security in Ghana and Ivory Coast is being implemented by a consortium of Wageningen UR, SNV Ghana, Resilience, Advance Consulting and SENSE.
It is supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands which has prioritized commercial agriculture in its strategic plan of moving from aid to trade.
At the launch, the Deputy Minister for Horticulture, Mr. George Oduro and the Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, H.E. Mr. Ron Strikker, cut a mango cake to officially launch the program.
Speaking at the launch, Mrs. Sheila Assibey-Yeboah presented core activities, which include the support for innovative business ideas of small and medium enterprises and the development of strong horticulture clusters in key tomato, onion and mango production areas. Through these activities the programme wants to reach at least 15,000 smallholder farmers by 2021, with a 20% increase in their productivity.
A first case in point was presented during the launch; as a Cooperation Agreement was signed between the Fruitmaster, Rabobank Foundation and HortiFresh to develop a 5,000m2 greenhouse in the Volta Region. In the Cooperation Agreement the three partners commit themselves to the financing and technical support for quality production of tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers for the national market, employing at least 25 new staff that will operate the greenhouse and grading facilities. For HortiFresh and Rabobank Foundation the pilot forms the start of a longer term partnership, through which a number of projects, particularly those with an emphasis on smallholder farmers, will be supported.
HortiFresh succeeds the GhanaVeg programme which was implemented between 2014 and 2017. GhanaVeg supported more than 30 innovative projects that were implemented by lead companies. The programme worked on a number of issues in the enabling environment, ranging from phytosanitary issues to food safety, addressing environmental concerns and increasing public awareness on health and nutrition. GhanaVeg organized 20 well-attended Business Platform meetings in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale; which further reinforced sector partnerships and business to business trade deals.
HortiFresh is expected to further build on and continue these activities.
At the launch, two of the most successful companies, Eden Tree Limited and AB Farms, presented the results of the GhanaVeg projects. Through the collaboration both companies were able to double their revenues and work closely with more than 50 outgrowers each.
For his part, Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, H.E. Ron Strikker affirmed the Netherlands’ commitment in moving from aid to trade and highlighted the key role of the private sector in this.
While alluding to the opportunities that focus on improving food safety for the domestic market, better quality and added value for export markets, he called on the financial sector to prioritize the horticulture sector in the loan portfolio; as the program has identified many reliable companies with profitable business projects.
A call of for Concept Notes was announced, inviting small and medium enterprises(SMEs) to submit innovative business ideas that promote the sustainable uptake of inputs like quality seeds and irrigation equipment. The call also solicits concepts that focus on the provision of agronomic services, like professional spray and extension advisory services. The full call for concept notes can be found at: www.ghanaveg.org/grants.
HortiFresh programme consists of two components: fruits and vegetables. In Ghana, attention will be given to the fruit and vegetable sectors while focusing on the other regional fruit supply chain dimensions in the surrounding countries like Ivory Coast. The objectives include improving productivity in the vegetable sector; facilitating more efficient markets, including linking vegetable producers and other value chain operators with the Dutch private sector improving the business climate and further professionalizing the value chain for vegetable production and consumption in Africa.
By Joseph Kobla Wemakor|Ghananewsone.com