Madam Joycelyn Gayden Brown Hall, Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to Ghana, has presented her Letter of Credence to Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.
Madam Hall was accompanied by Mr Abebe Haile-Gabriel GebreYohannes, the FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa.
In March 2020, the Government of Ghana approved the appointment of Madam Hall as FAO’s Representative to Ghana.
However, due to the restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Madam Hall was unable to travel to Ghana to present her Letter of Credence.
During the interaction, the Minister congratulated Madam Hall on the “well-deserved appointment.”
She also assured the FAO Country Representative of the Government’s full support and cooperation during her tenure and wished her a fruitful and memorable stay in Ghana.
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey noted the excellent cooperation that successive Governments of Ghana had enjoyed from the FAO since the establishment of its presence in the country in 1978.
She said the state of Ghana’s agricultural sector had largely been influenced by the valuable technical assistance and advice, proffered by the FAO in the implementation of programmes and projects in the area of food and agriculture, nutrition, and natural resource management.
The Minister said the agriculture sector was the largest source of employment in Ghana, comprising mostly small-holder farmers, whose outputs were heavily dependent on unpredictable weather conditions, among others.
She stated the Government’s commitment to the sector due to its relevance to poverty reduction – was key to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey said the Government’s flagship initiatives of ‘Planting for Food and Jobs, ‘Rearing for Food and Jobs’ and ‘One Village One Dam’, which were all primarily aimed at increasing food production, addressing the issue of food insecurity in the country and the creation of jobs for the youthful Ghanaian population, were on course and called for support from all.
The Minister also highlighted the Government’s value addition strategy aimed at boosting food security such as the reduction in retail prices of seeds, provision of subsidised fertilizer, hybrid seeds and agrochemicals to over 42,000 smallholder farmers nationwide.
She also mentioned the implementation of a warehouse receipt system for farmers to assist them to store their harvest, in anticipation of an appreciated price to protect farmers during the period of COVID-19.
The Minister said for Government to achieve the UN recommended ratio of one extension officer to 500 farmers, the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO) had helped to bridge that gap and contributing to the improvement of agricultural production, modernisation of agriculture through education to ensure the maximisation of profit to local farmers.
She said plans were far advanced for the revamping of existing mechanisation centres with support from the private sector to establish, manage and provide affordable mechanisation services to farmers as well as the setting up of greenhouse facilities and the training of young people in mechanized agriculture.
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey commended the FAO for its excellent partnership with Ghana and Observed that the physical absence of the Country Representative notwithstanding, the FAO Office under the leadership of Mr Abebe Haile-Gabriel Gebreohannes had functioned effectively and ably supported the Government’s implementation of policies despite the difficult challenges posed by the pandemic.
She expressed optimism that under Madam Hall, the FAO Ghana Office would scale-up its collaboration with the relevant MDAs to significantly enhance the benefits that the Government and people of Ghana derived from that vital sector.
Madam Hall, who is a national of the United States, said the FAO was empowering women and youth to enable them to contribute to the nation’s socio-economic development.
In the area of fish farming and also fish processing, Madam Hall said the FAO had appropriate technology that allowed for fish smoking to be done within one hour instead of nine hours; adding that the technology would go a long way to help reduce health hazards suffered by small-scale processors.