General News of Friday, 23 March 2007
Accra, March 23, GNA - Mr Kwadwo Affram Asiedu, Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry, Private Sector Development and President's Special Initiatives on Friday reprimanded participants at the inauguration of the National Salt Producers Association of Ghana (NASPAG) for failing to dress in the "National Friday Wear."
The participants, including the president of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI); five out of eight members of the NASPAG executives; and other invited guest from the business community were mostly dressed in suit, which necessitated the ministers comments. The Friday Wear was launched in 2004 to persuade Ghanaians to patronage made-in-Ghana products, especially dress in local attire to rekindle the national consciousness.
It was a domesticated marketing strategy designed by Government to revitalise and save the Ghanaian textile and garment industry as well as promote made-in-Ghana goods.
Mr Affram Asiedu appealed to Ghanaians, especially the business community to patronage locally made goods, "you should not just be talking and promoting your goods only, you should demonstrate it practically."
Speaking on the Ghanaian Salt Industry, the deputy minister assured salt producers of government's commitment to revamp the industry.
In pursuit of the government's objectives, the Ministry of Mines, Lands and Forestry have been tasked to create land bank database to streamline the acquisition and use of land for salt production in the country.
Mr Affram Assiedu, however expressed concern about pricing, buying and exportation of salt, which according to him is mainly controlled by foreigners.
"We therefore view the establishment of NASPAG as a positive sign which will help in regularizing the demand and supply mechanism that will stabilize the market," he said.
He urged NASPAG to comply with targets set under the Universal salt Iodisation standards as government consider it as a priority. Ms Liv Elden Djokoto, Acting Representative of UNICEF Ghana commended the government for passing and enforcing legislation to make iodisation of salt mandatory for both human and animal consumption. She however, expressed concern about the drop in the household consumption of iodised salt from 74.1 per cent in 2005 to 51 per cent in 2006.
Ms Djokoto outlined programme of activities initiated by UNICEF through the PSI on Salt to promote the industry. The activities include establishment of a modern data base, geographical information system of salt producing areas along Ghana's coast to be accessed by both existing and would-be investors and provide support for the hosting of West African regional conference of salt producers.
They also cover sponsorship for two government officials to build technical capacity in an internally recognise institution and offer technical and business support to set up an iodisation unit at selected salt cluster.
Ms Trudy Bower-Pirinis Country Representative of the United Nations World Food Programme said iodised salt forms an important part of WFP's feeding programmes in both its development and emergency operations. However, although Ghana is recognised as the second largest producer of salt in the sub-region, WFP stopped buying salt from Ghana in 2005 due mainly to the high cost of iodised salt and the limited number of suppliers who could meet its tender requirements. "Determined to cause a breakthrough in this trend and contribute to national efforts to increase the production, distribution and promotion of iodised salt in Ghana, WFP has partnered with Micronutrient Initiative and Technoserve to provide technical and business assistance to small and medium scale salt producers to upgrade their capacity to meet the standard," she said.
Ms Bower-Pirinis said WFP is determined to develop Ghana as a regional procurement hub for the supply of food commodities in general, including iodised salt.
On WFP assisted projects in Ghana, MS Bower-Pirinis mentioned the distribution of iodised salt to 300,000 school children and their families, lactating mothers and children under five years, through support to national education and nutrition programmes. Another is the distribution of iodised salt as income generating projects for three women's groups in WFP beneficiary communities in northern Ghana. The eight-member NASPAG was sworn-into office by Mr Anthony Oteng Gyasi, AGI president, who chaired the inaugural ceremony. 23 March 07