VENTURES AFRICA â€“ Ghanaâ€™s total export value is expected to increase to $5 billion between mid-year 2015 to end of 2016, Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, Minister of Trade and Industry announced on Tuesday yesterday.
Consequently, Government would aggressively support agricultural production, growth of horticultural and other vegetable crops as well as shore up small out-grower farming schemes countrywide to meet the target, he added.
Mr. Iddrisu was speaking at the inauguration of a nine-member Board for the re-launched Ayensu Starch Company Limited in Kasoa, near Accra. The Starch Factory produces cassava on a large scale for domestic and export markets.
The Minister expressed optimism that the target would be achieved, adding that, stronger collaboration between the Ministry of Trade and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture is expected to guarantee the desired goal of increasing export to improve the countryâ€™s terms and balance of trade.
He said Ghana was under obligation to improve her export standards to meet the European Union requirements, particularly in the area of cocoa. Cocoa is the main ingredient for making chocolate.
Mr Iddrisu said the prospect of exporting mangoes to Japan was high but explained that the country needed to meet the Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary Measures (SPM) set by the Japanese Government.
Under the SPM agreement, the World Trade Organisation sets constraints on member-statesâ€™ policies relating to food safety (bacterial contaminants, pesticides, inspection and labeling) as well as animal and plant health (phytosanitation) with respect to pests and diseases found in imported agricultural products.
The minister however expressed the view that meeting the Japanese government requirements and standards for mangoes would require an overhaul of Ghanaâ€™s standards regime to ensure conformity to assessment and other requirements.
Speaking to the newly-inaugurated Board members, he charged them to operate to ensure that the factory was viable, profitable and sustainable.
Mr Iddrisu gave the assurance that the members would operate without any ministerial interference.
He reminded them to leverage public, private partnership as an effective tool to leap-frog the factory to the path of sustainable growth.
Citing the advent of the use of cassava to prepare beer that had been initiated by Guinness Ghana Company Limited, he underscored the value of forging strong partnership with the private sector.
He told the Board to â€œcourt the private sector interestâ€ as a means to â€œbreathe lifeâ€ into the economic life of the factory.
Mr Iddrisu gave the assurance that Government was committed to finding long-term solutions to the energy crises to enable businesses to thrive.
Mr Kodwo Ahlijah, Board Chairman, expressed optimism that the board would be able to work hard to restore the factory to the path of sustainability and profitability.
The Ayensu Starch Company Limited, located at Bawjiase in the Central Region, ceased its operations for the second time in December 2011 due to operational and financial constraints, largely attributed to inadequate power supply to ensure sustainable production and to meet supply targets.
In 2006, the factory stopped operations due to technical difficulties and the inability of peasant farmers engaged by the company to supply sufficient cassava to meet production capacity.
The factory was inaugurated in February 2004 under a government scheme called the â€˜Presidential Special Initiative on Cassavaâ€™. It was established to create a market for cassava growers and to develop the root crop into starch as well as allied products for job creation particularly for the youth.
The factory, which was projected to operate at 70 per cent of its installed capacity is said to be operating at 20 per cent since September 2006 due to unavailability of raw materials.
To address the challenge, the management has acquired 2,000 acres of land to cultivate cassava on a large-scale with the hope of processing about 22,000 tonnes of cassava annually.