Tree Crop Devt Is My Vision – Afriyie Akoto

Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto

A flagbearer candidate for the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has stated that he personally approached the World Bank to provide funding to support the Tree Crop Development Authority (TCDA), knowing the potential of its revenue base and how it could change Ghana’s economic fortunes.

According to him, he made the decision due to the slow speed at which the government was disbursing the seed money of US$5 million per year for the first three years of the foundation of the Tree Crop Development Authority (TCDA), totaling US$15 million.

As at the first three years of the establishment of the TCDA, only US$3 has been disbursed to the Authority, making it woefully inadequate for its operations.

The TCDA was established by an Act of Parliament, 2019 (Act 1010), to develop and regulate the tree crop sub-sector and to provide for related matters. It is the main body spearheading the Tree Crop Diversification Project (TCDP).

“As we speak, only US$3million has been disbursed to promote the objectives of the Tree Crop Development Authority. While the slow disbursement of the seed money was going on, I engaged the World Bank to see how best they can assist us. So, they saw my vision that this is something that can easily make Ghana a prosperous country if we just took care of that particular Authority. So, the engagement went on and I am glad that in only a few months that I have left office, the World Bank itself has put up a statement that they are prepared to support the Authority with US$200million. It is just a relief for me”, he noted.

Dr. Akoto made this observation in an interview at his campaign office on Sunday, July 9, 2023.

His reaction follows the announcement on June 23, 2023, at Washington DC by the International Development Association of the World Bank that it has approved a US$200million financing facility for the Government of Ghana for its Tree Crop Diversification Project (TCDP).

The facility was to support the Government of Ghana to diversify and grow its economy through modernizing agriculture to accelerate productivity, resilience, and industrialization.

The financing is projected to directly benefit 12,800 cocoa farmers and 39,975 cashews, coconut, and rubber farmers, and their households. An additional 20,000 jobs are expected to be created in downstream value addition by mobilizing private capital. Nearly 40 percent of on-farm beneficiaries will be women.

The TCDP being spearheaded by the Tree Crop Development Authority (TCDA), will see the development of the six tree crops namely cashew, rubber, shea, oil palm, mango and coconut including cocoa itself being prioritized by the government.

The combined growth of these six tree crops is projected to earn Ghana between US$ 6 billion to US$12 billion annually after six or seven years of implementation.

The financing of the Tree Crop Diversification Project will further support demand driven research and enhance on-farm productivity and resilience to improve the productivity, profitability, and climate resilience in the cocoa, cashew, coconut, and rubber value chains.

Commenting further on the facility, Dr. Akoto who is a former two-term Member of Parliament (MP) for Kwadaso, lauded the International Development Association for extending the financial support for the Tree Crop Diversification Project.

He expressed the belief that the US$200million injected into the TCDP would speed up the activities of the TCDA, an action, he underscored, was the surest way to salvage the country’s economic woes.

Dr. Akoto said the economic transformation of the country hinged on agriculture, of which the tree crop plays an important role.

Citing the situation in Ivory Coast, Dr. Akoto said total annual export earnings from five cash crops – cashew, cocoa, coffee, rubber and oil palm, fetched the economy some US$8billion every year.

He noted that the location of Ghana gave it a strategic advantage over Ivory Coast because “we have a vast arable land with enough water bodies and good rains”.

He was confident that with the availability of the money, the Board and Management of the TCDA would now be able to pursue objectives of the Authority and ensure that the Ghanaian economy is turned around.

“I am very confident now that with the capable Management and Board of the Authority, they will be able to implement and make this a very unique contribution to the transformation of Ghana and that is the vision I am bringing to the Presidency of Ghana if I am elected first as the flagbearer of the NPP and subsequently as President come 7th December 2024 if the people of Ghana are convinced of this vision, this will be my central contribution in terms of promoting development in Ghana by transforming the economy,” he noted.

He commended farmers in the country for their commitment to feed Ghanaians, stressing that the smallholder farmers were ready to support the government to turn the economic fortunes of Ghana around using agriculture.

Dr. Akoto also commended the current Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Bryan Acheampong for continuing from where he left over with the introduction of the second phase of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ).

By Samuel Boadi