Some 10 agriculture entrepreneurs in the vegetable sector, who were selected to tour and study Kenya’s system, at the weekend returned to help revamp the sector with the knowledge gained.
This was part of the Ghana Commercial Agriculture Project (GCAP), an initiative of the Government, which started in 2013, to facilitate access to land, attract agri-business investors, and promote public private partnerships and small-holder linkages in the Accra Plains the SADA Zone.
The Project is to improve productivity of smallholder and nucleus farms in selected intervention areas, funded by a World Bank Credit of 150 million dollars.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) co-funded the project with 16.95 million dollars.
Mr Osei Owusu-Agyemang, the Project Coordinator, said the 10 entrepreneurs, selected through competitive screening, were sponsored by the Japanese Government through the World Bank, to serve as the focal point to revamp the Ghanaian vegetable sector.
He said the beneficiaries would be given cold vans and other facilities to enable them to provide market access to vegetables across the country, especially the five areas where the project was assisting smallholder farmers.
These area are Ada, Kumasi, South Tongu, Michele Camp, and Atomic Energy in Ga East.
Mrs Galina Okartei-Akko, the Agribusiness Analyst for the GCAP, said as managers of the Ghana Peri-urban Vegetable Value Chain, with the Directorate of Crop Service at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, they were focusing not only on the access to market but also reducing post-harvest loses.
She said the strategy was to use the 10 agribusiness entrepreneurs as anchor farmers to offtake the project in the five areas.
The project, which ends in June, this year, would also supply the beneficiary farmers with access to water and train them to produce in line with the qualities required by the Ghana Green Label (GGL) certification scheme.
The GGL certification scheme is the Government of Ghana’s response to growing consumer demands for safe food production in an environmentally sustainable and sound way, which provides consumers with a system to easily recognise quality, safe fruits and vegetables.
In an interview with some of the entrepreneurs, Mr Michael Gariba, the Chief Executive Officer of Fruit Master, said the trip afforded him and his colleagues the opportunity to look at the entire vegetable sector.
“We saw how critical they are when it comes to food and safety. They make sure that the protocols are in place from the farm to the production site, to the pack house and this is one of the things we would have to ensure when producing in Ghana”.
He said the Kenya Standard regulates the vegetables, which was similar to Ghana’s Green Label, adding that when the country was able to push the quality control measures, the vegetable sector would experience massive growth.
Madam Hettie Mercer-Ricketts, the CEO of HMR Limited, a fresh vegetable production and distribution company, said Kenya had standards for both export and local supplies of vegetables and flowers, with amazing structures that had helped to create huge employment opportunities for the people.