Thursday, March 15, 2012

Major Boost For Ghana Vegetables, Fruits Farmers; MWW to Invest in Northern Ghana

Francis Npong, Bolga, Upper East

CEO, SADA Alh. Gilbert Iddi (3rd from left) conducts MWW Rep Francisco Stargardter (3rd from right)round manago plantation as he explains EU fruits, vegetables specification to farmers
The Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) has provided hope and a brighter future for northerner sector vegetable, fruits and legumes and root crops farmers, producers, and marketers after it had been able to woo one of United Kingdom’s biggest handlers of freshagricultural produce companies, Minor, Weir and Willis Ltd (MWW) into its operational areas.
The company with many subsidiaries in about 40 countries in Europe andAfrica would not only partner with the local farmers to produce fresh fruits, and vegetables for European market but would also provide technical expertise and invest heavily in infrastructure development in the area.
The managing Director of Oxford Fruit Company, a subsidiary of MWW Ltd Mr. Francisco Stargardter who visited some local vegetable and fruit farmers in northern and Upper East regions described the zone as ideal place for fruits, vegetable and root crops production. “The zones are ideal place for fresh vegetable produce and we will like to invest in chemical free vegetables, butter nuts and roots crops and fruits production because we have the biggest for our produce already in Europe, Africa and Carribean”, he said.
Under the invitation of SADA, the field visit in the regions was for the management of the companies to explore the possibilities of collaboration and partnership in fresh agriculture produces such as mangos, butter nuts squash, vegetables and root crops production.
Established in 1963 and located in Birmingham at the heart of the UK’s road and rail networks, the company specialized in the procurement of produce from around the world for sale in UK, Europe and Africa, the company sources over 100 agriculture products from than 40 countries and work closely with British vegetables, fruits and butternuts growers to feed the market which was readily available. According to the managing Director, the MWW group incorporates associates produce companies in the UK, Spain, Holland and Germany. These include growers, wholesale, and catering suppliers and marketing companies, through which they can supply produce across Europe.
He assured northern farmers of a world class service in the procurement, supply and distribution of certified seed crops, technical expertise to help them meet the international or European standards for fresh agriculture produce. The company who promised to work in partnership with its suppliers and customers would also be dedicated to the continuous improvement and development of products and sources to meet the demands of an increasingly sophisticated market.
The Managing Director discouraged the massive and continuous uses of agro chemicals which he said was harmful to human health and was not acceptable in European market.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) Alhaji Gilbert Iddi stated that the establishment of SADA marks the turning point not only for agriculture but also infrastructure development in its operational area.
He said that SADA had moved into action, focusing on market led agriculture that seeks to expand the market for the agriculture produce particularly fruits, vegetables, and root crops from the regions.
SADA he disclosed was also sourcing advance irrigation technologies to encourage dry season farming to make the regions all year farming destination.
Alhaji Iddi told the Enquirer after conducting investors from the United Kingdom’s most popular fruits and vegetable producers and marketing Company round SADA supported vegetables and fruits farmers in parts of northern and Upper East regions that, SADA would turn the agriculture into a fruitful venture that would attract more youth idling in southern sector into agriculture.
He disclosed that SADA was piloting butter nut squash cultivation, a dry season crop that needed little but effective and efficient irrigated land to produce. The crop which does well in hot weather takes only 90 days to plant and harvest. The crop does not also need chemicals to or fertilizers to grow but just water and hot weather and northern sector provides an ideal condition for the cultivation butter nuts squash which was in hot demand in European market.
SADA, the CEO told the Enquirer would also invest heavily Northern sector of Ghana which covered about 65 per cent of the total landmass of the country is said to be disease prone, poverty stricken with high maternal and infant deaths, lack basic infrastructure that forced the sizeable number of the youth to migrate from the areas to southern sector in searching for none existing jobs.
According to the CEO, SADA was poised to transforming the area under its jurisdiction and was leaving no stone unturned to ensure massive development of the area.
“By the time we are done the youth not like to make move out of the region because the potentials and opportunities will be huge to sustain them”, Alhaji Iddi told the Enquirer.
SADA was partnering with EDIF, NRGP, MiDA and other developmental agencies to provide a long term solution to solution the regions deprivation. “We want to bring the youth back to the region to engage in activities that will give them both long and short term benefits. That is why SADA is bankrolling the pilot project butter nuts squash cultivation and funding irrigation projects and supporting local farmers with technical expertise and high but short term yielding crop varieties”, he said.

a women in Upper East region irrigates her land for butter nuts squash cultivation
Butter nut squash is a wild fruit which takes less efforts and investment to produce as it does not demand too much water, or the use of agro chemicals. The crop which was said to have improved the livelihoods of most European farmers takes only ninety days to mature in a hot but less raining zones being its ideal environment. The crop which is also said to have some medicinal values has ready market internationally and was already in high demand. It was said to have turned agriculture in Brazil to flourishing business venture.
It is against this background that the SADA was bankrolling the pilot cultivation of the crop in its operational area which indicates a positive response. The Upper East Regional Minister Mr. Mark Wayogo who hailed SADA for bringing the investors to explore investment possibilities invited investors to in irrigation project to support the dry season farming to make the regions self food sufficient and improve the livelihoods of farmers.