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Story by Joseph Nana Yaw Cobbina

There is a time in every nation’s history when forward-looking governments take bold and strategic actions to alter the course and pace of economic development.

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Speaking at the official inauguration of the Tree Crops Development Authority (TCDA) is a clear example, the President of the Republic of Ghana, H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo reiterated to the fact that the birth of the Tree Crop Development Authority is the final step that consummates the process towards the dawn of a new era for Ghana’s Agriculture.

According to him, knowing very well that the establishment of the Authority holds great prospects for the Country’s economic development.

To have accomplished this feat, against all odds, and within the first term of my stewardship gladdens my heart, and I believe many well-meaning Ghanaians. Without a doubt, the establishment of a Tree Crop Development Authority has enormous implications, and this needs to be fully appreciated.

The Authority is akin to COCOBOD, the institution established to develop and regulate the cocoa sector in the country.

History has it that Tetteh Quarshie, the great son of our land introduced cocoa to the then Gold Coast now Ghana. This was on his return from a visit to Fernando Po in 1876.

That singular act changed the fortunes of this country. Not only did cocoa become the cash cow and dominant export commodity, it also put Ghana on the world map as the leading producer of premium cocoa globally for a long period.

Over the years, however, Ghana ceded that enviable position to Cote D’ivore, our immediate neighbours across the western border.

This is in spite of the fact that cocoa production still had enormous potential for expansion and development in Ghana.

Even in the face of challenges the magic crop remains a major source of export earnings fueling economic development. Indeed, revenue from this single tree crop has greatly impacted human resource and infrastructure development across all sectors of Ghana’s economy

As Ghana’s population increased exponentially, however, the need for additional sources of revenue from the tree crop sector became a national imperative.

The over-reliance on cocoa as the only major cash crop was no longer tenable especially in the face of mounting pressure for the expansion of government services and infrastructure.

Not surprisingly, the call to diversify earnings of the country’s revenue sources intensified to increase government’s capacity to finance the needs of the population through different streams of revenue. Inevitably, government had to explore new avenues to shore up its revenue to make up for deficits.

He noted that the logical solution was to focus and develop potential export crops with comparative advantage on the international market.

The tree crop sector presented numerous opportunities given that Ghana is endowed with examples of high demand crop on the global market.

Some of the tree crops like palm oil, rubber and cashew compare favourably with cocoa. Indeed it is difficult to understand why the sector has not received the priority attention it deserves since independence.

The enormous potential of the sector strengthened my conviction that Ghana has the capacity to move beyond Aid by setting its investment priorities right.

This should, however, be complemented by the needed political will to take bold and decisive decisions that challenge the status quo, and trigger the necessary change. Clearly the tree crop sector needs to be fully exploited to transform Ghana’s agriculture.

This inspired my statement on a campaign platform, while in opposition, that, “ye ti sika so eso ekom di yen” to wit, we
are hungry in the midst of plenty. Unfortunately, political mischief has put a spin on this statement to create an erroneous impression among the citizenry.

Government’s response to the revenue deficit is to break the monopoly of cocoa as the main cash crop of the country. Our strategy is to promote the development of other tree crops with equal or even higher economic value.

The enormous benefits expected to accrue from taking the bold decision largely inform government’s policy to diversify tree crop exports. In the face of growing demand and complex challenges, there is the need to optimize the benefit from the country’s natural resources in order to attain the vision of a “Ghana Beyond Aid”. Consequently, our primary focus as a government has been to drive economic development through pragmatic policy interventions that provide equal opportunity for wealth creation.

By design and content, our brand strategy and flagship programme, Planting for Food and Jobs, provide ample testimony of government’s commitment to transform the agricultural sector.

The Tree Crops Module, otherwise known as Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD), was therefore strategically included as one of the five modules of the PFJ campaign.

He stated that the module was launched in 2019 at Dunkwa-On-Offin with a focus to develop the Tree Crop sector.

The PERD is a market oriented rural based value chain intervention that seeks to increase and widen Ghana’s export portfolio, and accelerate rural development.

To kick start the implementation of the PERD programme, seven tree crops namely: mango, cashew, shea, rubber, cocoa, oil palm and coffee have been identified and selected for promotion under the programme.

He mentioned that the  implementation modalities entails the production of seedlings by District Assemblies for distribution to farmers and interested persons particularly the youth.

The investment and wealth creating opportunities provided under this module is enormous and should be exploited by all including the youth.

This is necessary to secure their future through investments in the tree crops. At full implementation, the PERD programme will strategically position Ghana’s agriculture to drive government’s industrialization agenda through the 1D1F policy.

This will open up new avenues for employment along the selected value chains and transform rural economies.

The successful promotion of Tree Crops development, however, depends on strong regulatory support to safe- guard investment in the tree crops sector, and make it more competitive.

In pursuance of this agenda, government has taken steps to establish a Tree Crop Development Authority to address the peculiar challenges of the sector.

These are: • absence of regulation • Poor and unreliable price mechanism • Weak extension • Inadequate credit support and
• Weak public sector support, it is instructive to note that the Act establishing the TCDA (1010) was passed by Parliament in December, 2019 to provide legal backing for the critical activities of development and regulation of the Tree Crop sector.

In terms of its management structure, the TCDA is composed of a 29- member board to which 24 members are nominated by the private sector.

The executive management is headed by the Chief Executive Officer who is supported by the Chief Operations Officer, General Counsel and the Chief Finance Officer.

Unlike COCOBOD, the composition of the Tree Crop Development Authority board is largely made up of representation from the private sector.

In the case of the board, National Value Chain Associations nominate members through a proven self-designed process that ensures transparency and commitment of all value chain actors.

It has to be emphasized that nominations to the Authority is strictly nonpartisan basis.

This is to ensure all-inclusiveness in the promotion of Tree Crops Development in the country, with the best possible expert advice.

The success of the TCDA will, however, depend on a number of factors.

According to him, critical among them is a sustainable funding mechanism that ensures that the Authority has the capacity and power vested by the establishment ACT, to carry out its mandate devoid of political interference
From all indications, the establishment of the Tree Crop Development Authority will be a game changer.

It is a fulfilled promise by government to strategically position agriculture to propel economic development. It is projected that all seven Tree Crops would potentially add $14billion dollars to Ghana’s revenue annually.

This is on the assumption that each of the selected Tree Crops can generate $2billion dollars annually just like cocoa.

It gives us as a government to updated statistics on participation in the programme so far is very encouraging.

A total of 220,257 farmers have enrolled onto the programme while a total of 235,850 hectares of land have been cultivated with approximately 30million seedlings developed across the country.

Indeed there is a great sense of optimism that the PERD programme will bring about the transformation of the agricultural sector by providing the strong raw material base needed for Ghana’s industrialization push. In the past three and half years, Government has demonstrated beyond doubt its commitment to develop the agricultural sector, as a strategy for accelerated economic development.

The consistent and impressive growth of the sector clearly vindicates the massive injection of public funds into the sector.

"I am sure we all do agree that the new momentum gathered in the sector must be sustained if it is to effectively play its strategic role as the driving force of Ghana’s economic development" he recounted.

Government has no illusions about the fact that strong private sector partnership and continuous donor support from Development Partners is required to sustainably address the problems of the agricultural sector.

The development paradigm is to balance infrastructural development with people-centered policies that empower the citizenry economically.

Is important to highlight on NPP adminstration flagship programmes the PFJ, 1D1F, 1V1D and the Free SHS all have common objectives of improving the livelihoods of the people.

With the achievements recorded so far, we are confident that Ghana is on course to becoming an economic tiger in Africa sooner than later.

This is, however, subject to consistency of policy, focus, and visionary leadership.

He pointed out that his  government has a heightened sense of awareness of this reality and is well positioned to deliver on its mandate, guided by the precepts of good governance.


Editor: Nii Amon
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