Ghana to Reduce Poverty by 50%

Ghana is among a few African countries likely to meet, ahead of schedule, the millennium target of cutting poverty by half by 2015, President John Evans Atta Mills announced yesterday, October 27, 2009. President Mills, who said this in a speech read on his behalf by Vice-President John Mahama in Accra yesterday, attributed the feat to better focus on agriculture, political stability and better co-ordination. The occasion was a roundtable on Ghana’s Medium Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan organised under the auspices of the ECOWAS Agriculture Policy Development Programme (CAADP) of the NEPAD. The two-day conference will lead to the signing by Ghana of the CAADP compact, which commits African governments to raising agricultural growth to at least six per cent a year. To achieve that target, African governments that have signed the compact have agreed to increase public investment in agriculture by a minimum of 10 per cent of their national budgets-substantially more than the four to five per cent average they committed previously. Throwing more light on the fact that the country was on course to achieving the millennium target of halving poverty by the target date, President Mills said Ghana experienced an average agricultural rapid growth rate of about 4.3 per cent between 1984 and 2009. That relatively high growth rate in agriculture, he said, caused radical decline in poverty, from a high of 52 per cent rate during the early 1990s to roughly half that level at present. “It is our intention to accelerate this growth to at least six per cent per annum to increase the eradication of poverty by providing a favourable agricultural growth environment for pursuing private/public sector collaborations,”, the President said. He said in line with the country’s agriculture agenda research and technology would be developed to address the needs of farmers for the transition to commercial agriculture. “This will be supported with extension, improved seeds and irrigation facilities and appropriate infrastructure to ensure year round production,” he said. “In addition an agricultural development and investment fund and a strategic buffer-stock management scheme will seek to stabilize prices as well.” Under its mechanisation programme, the President said government would establish at least one mechanization centre per each of the 170 districts, 500 boreholes would be constr4ucted for irrigation purposes in the 10 regions while rehabilitation of various irrigation projects would be completed. Presdient Mills said the CAADP, a political framework to bolster agricultural development on the continent, and the ECOWAS Agricultural Policy frameworks were being integrated into national efforts to promote agriculture sector growth and overall economic development in the country. That, he said, would further strengthen the linkages and the policy coordination between the national and global levels.