Mr Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, Western Regional Minister has invited investors to explore opportunities in the coconut production industry in the Region.
He said the Western Region, which produced about 85 per cent of the nation’s coconut, had structures in place to realise a minimum of USD 400 million annually from the crop.
The Minister was speaking at a regional focus event in Ho, which formed part of the 35th National Farmers Day.
He said five million coconut seedlings would be produced with the establishment of two new nurseries at Shama and Jomoro.
“Come and invest in our coconut industry if you want to get rich. Our coconut is entirely different from all others in Ghana because of good soil and water quality,” he said.
Mr Okyere Darko-Mensah said improved coconut hybrids resistant to the Cape Saint Paul’s Wilt Disease (CSPWD) had been developed, and that the Region produced internationally acceptable coconut oil.
He said a 15 acre nursery had been established at Anyinase to produce 45,000 hybrid seedlings resistant to the CSPWD annually, and that the Coconut Development Unit was also assisting farmers re-grow trees lost to the disease.
The Minister said the Region was also the hub for the production of other tree crops including coffee, oil palm, and rubber, with a significant number of agro based industries flourishing.
“Opportunities abound in cocoa and coffee processing into beverages, butter, chocolate, industrial and edible palm oil, palm kernel oil, and coconut oil.
“There are opportunities also in the areas of fresh fruit juice processing, edible cassava, cocoyam, plantain products, industrial and high-quality cassava flour and starch. Others are rice milling, rubber processing into tyre, tubes and other rubber products”, he said.
The minister also touted investment opportunities in forest wood, bamboo, and rattan among others, which could be processed into furniture and construction materials.
He said favourable climatic conditions in the entire Region made possible the production of exotic commodities including black pepper, nutmeg, rabbits, mushrooms, and snails.
The Minister also called on investors to consider the Region’s cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and poultry rearing industries, saying there was the need to maximise their production to meet market demand.
He said the region was endowed with an estimated 14,555 hectares of inland valleys, with adequate water resources for irrigated agriculture, notably all year round production of rice and vegetables to feed both local and international markets.
He also said its vast coastline with significant number of fish landing sites produced the bulk of the nation’s aquatic produce, and that with the construction of two new landing sites at Axim and Dixcove, investment in the sector was most viable.
The minister said the Ankobra, Pra, and Tano tributaries were suitable for the development of fish farms, with several hatcheries in the region producing about 480,000 fingerlings annually, which could also be expanded.
Mr Okyere Darko-Mensah said this gave the Region a better chance to pilot Government’s Aquaculture for Food and Jobs programme.
The minister however said challenges including low fertilizer use particularly in rural areas with bad road networks, inadequate infrastructure, and illegal mining continued to plague agriculture development in the region.
He said illegal mining, aside destroying lands, was also affecting the availability of farm labour and cost, as the youth turned more attention to galamsey.
He said efforts were being made to make agriculture more attractive to the youth, and that community mining sites were obliged to grow trees and vegetables as corporate social responsibilities.
Mr Okyere Darko-Mensah said army worms were “solidly” under control, and again called on investors to “partner hardworking farmers exploit the numerous opportunities in the Region”.
This year’s Farmer’s Day celebration is on the theme “Enhancing Small Scale Agriculture towards Agribusiness Development”.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo would grace the award ceremony on Friday, December 06, during, which best farmers from across the country would be awarded.