The government has secured $108 million loan from the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the African Development Bank to implement the third phase of the Rural Development Programme (REP).
Mr Kweku Rickett Hagan, the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, said the government was providing additional $64 million to complement the loan through counterpart funding.
He was speaking at the opening session of a three-day workshop on the implementation of the third phase of the REP for Municipal and District Chief Executives and Coordinating Directors in Sunyani on Monday.
Mr Hagan said the 1992 constitution charged District Assemblies to promote and support economic productive activities of individuals or groups of persons.
The Local Government Act mandates the District Assemblies to promote productive ventures by removing obstacles to the growth of small and medium enterprises, he explained.
Mr Hagan said that was why the government had initiated and pursuing several policies such as the REP, Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy and the Ghana?s shared Growth and Development Agenda.
He called on the Assemblies to commit more resources to the development of micro and small businesses, which would ultimately benefit the assemblies through increased taxes, property rates and levies and the general wellbeing of the people.
Mr Hagan appealed to District Chief Executives to ensure that the resources provided under the programme were used effectively for the benefit of the rural poor.
He said the REP was interested in helping especially the youth to engage in cassava, shea nut, oil palm, salt, cashew, fruit or vegetables processing, fish farming, bee keeping, guinea fowl rearing or poultry and traditional crafts.
Mr Kwasi Attah-Antwi, the National Director of the REP, said the programme was introduce in the country in 1992 and successfully piloted in only two districts in Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo regions from 1995 to 1997 and then expanded to cover 13 additional districts in the regions.
He said at the end of the first phase of the programme in 2002, 140,000 rural people had benefited from project services and 2,710 profitable businesses had been established in the 13 districts.
Mr Attah-Antwi said at the close of the phase two of the project in 2011, a total of 237,189 people had benefited with 25,139 new businesses established leading to the creation of 53,523 jobs.
He said currently the third phase of the programme, which began in 2012, was being implemented in 161 districts and expected to end by 2020 and appealed to the district assemblies to coordinate all resources to make it successful.
Mr Justice Samuel Adjei, the Deputy Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister, appealed to the leadership of all the project implementing districts to ensure that the activities of the REP and other micro and small enterprises development activities and programmes were mainstreamed into the assembly system.