Anthony Sikpa, the President of the Federation Association of Ghanaian Exporters (FAGE), has stated that there are so many opportunities for Ghana to explore in order to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area but the Ghana Export Promotion Authority should act more practically to address challenges of farmers who are a major part of the export chain.
“GEPA has a lot more to do than they are saying they have. They need to look at each product, on a case by case basis and find out what is ailing them, to address it,” he implored.
The President of FAGE, who was engaged in an Eye on Port panel discussion on how exports could be used as a catalyst for national development, described the state of Ghana’s exports as having plateaued.
The Deputy Chief Executive, Human Resource and Administration of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority, Albert Kassim Diwura, who was also present at the panel discussion, said even though there are more grounds to break in terms of transforming the export sector, his outfit has been giving a lot of support to exporters which include funding and capacity building.
He said the export school, a flagship program of the Authority which is currently being transformed from a virtual school to a structured school would enrol exporters to educate them in order to build their capacity.
Anthony Sikpa asked the Ghana Export Promotion Authority to collaborate more closely with the various categories of producers and exporters to identify challenges that are encountered in the business to bring more practical solutions to them.
“I will suggest to GEPA that despite the nice government programs that have come up, they need to sit down with the individual members in the value chain and see where they can make an impact,” he urged.
He identified global warming as very troubling to the export business as warmer climate has given rise to pest and diseases, and unsavoury harvests.
He advised GEPA to engage farmers in climate-smart agriculture, which is incorporating skills that combat ill-climate in farming methods to yield better results.
He encouraged the use of drought-resistance seed as an example of climate-smart measure. He said this would be achieved through GEPA’s collaboration with the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate of Ghana.
The Deputy Chief Executive of GEPA said his outfit is coming up with measures that would improve upon Ghana’s falling farm yield as a result of climate change which includes the provision of pineapple suckers to farmers to make up the deficit in pineapple production.
Also, he hinted on a collaboration with Israelis to introduce efficient modern technological methods to scale up the production of mango and further collaborations with other renowned producers of other crops in other countries to help Ghana improve on its methods in the future.
“Currently we have engaged some Israelis. Despite the climate change, they have seen potential in Ghana and they are prepared to partner with GEPA and other sectors to see where they can boost the mango industry,” he disclosed.
Emmanuel Doni-Kwame, Secretary General of the ICC Ghana, who was the third member of the panel discussion, also bemoaned climate change and called for more work from agricultural extension officers and meteorologists, to come up with ways to combat this menace that is causing a serious deficit to farmers.
“There is the need for agricultural extension officers to also be on the ground to advise those in the agriculture sector and meteorologists in the regions should be able to be giving the necessary information.”
He called for a comprehensive national policy on climate change in order to immediately eradicate its effect on the country’s agriculture.
Emmanuel Doni Kwame challenged all Ghanaians to commit to planting a tree each as both an economic and environment measure in the face of depleting agricultural resource in the country.
“Let’s make it a point to plant and nurse a tree each from September and that would take care of the carbon emissions and they may reduce the temperature levels to the globally acceptable target,” he said.
The Panel also listed the cost of energy, and difficulty in accessing funds for local export businesses as other problems exporters face.