Dr Kwabena Duffuor
DR KWABENA DUFFUOR, a former Finance Minister and contender for the flagbearership position of the minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the 2024 general elections, has called on Government to introduce a comprehensive Cassava Value Chain Development Programme to exploit the benefits of cassava more extensively for national economic growth and development.
According to Dr Duffuor, such government-sponsored programme will use fiscal incentives and direct policy measures to promote and expand industrial processing of cassava into various kinds of finished and semi-finished products; promote and expand exports of cassava-based products to traditional and untapped world markets; stimulate innovation along the cassava value chain to improve the variety of cassava derivatives and products that can be commercialised; and support as well as expand the production of cassava to meet the expected increase in demand.
At a recent public lecture in Accra, he was emphatic that “The programme will create thousands of jobs by encouraging and supporting cassava entrepreneurship, with a special focus on the youth through training, financial assistance, market access support and the formation of partnerships, which will contribute to the full exploitation of cassava for accelerated economic growth and development.”
Dr Duffuor continued that at least three factors would aid increased industrialisation and commercialisation of cassava to support rapid economic growth and job creation.
“First, a large potential demand for cassava for industrial purposes exists locally, which, with the right policy incentives, can be converted into effective demand. A case in point is the favorable response of the breweries to the tax incentives that were provided to the industry when I was the Finance Minister to encourage the production of cassava-based beer. This policy led to the development of Ruut Extra Premium Beer, Ghana’s first beer made from cassava, by Guinness Ghana Breweries Limited.”
He further said a second factor favoring increased industrialisation and commercialisation of cassava was the existence of actual and potential global markets for cassava products. “Currently, Asia provides the biggest market for cassava derivatives, with China the predominant source of demand for cassava starch, flour, chips, and pellets. Currently, Ghana’s share of this trade is low, but can be significantly boosted if the right enabling environment is created. The indication is that the prospects are also bright for increasing cassava product exports to Europe and the United States,” he averred.
A third factor which he said made the realisation of greater economic benefits from cassava feasible was that the potential for further expansion of cassava production in Ghana was high.
The politician cum businessman stated, “To begin with, the crop is one of the easiest to grow in the country, with one group of local researchers describing it as “drought-tolerant, fairly resistant to plant disease, and extremely flexible in its cultivation, management requirements, and harvesting cycles”.
“The estimated total land area under cassava production has risen over the years from less than 900,000 hectares in 2011 to more than 1 million hectares in 2019, contributing to the growth in output.
“Furthermore, Ghanaian scientists have developed several improved and higher yielding varieties of cassava, whose accelerated adoption can help, raise production to satisfy increased demand.”
BY Samuel Boadi