Regional News of Friday, 30 April 2004
Sunyani, April 30, GNA - Nana Kwadwo Seinti, Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister on Thursday called on participants of a one-day workshop in Sunyani, at which the Rural Trade and Industry Promotion Project (RUTIPP) was launched to address bottlenecks hindering fledgling industries in the country.
The workshop was organised jointly by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and President's Special Initiatives and the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) to assist entrepreneurs to expand their businesses. The 53 stakeholder-participants were from Ministry of Local Government represented by the District Assemblies, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and President's Special Initiatives, National Board for Small Scale Industries, GTZ and representatives of business associations, including entrepreneurs from the Brong-Ahafo Region. Nana Seinti advised asked them to particularly take a dispassionate look at problems associated with loan recovery and fashion out mechanisms for their redress.
He also called on the participants to look into value addition to agricultural produce saying although Brong-Ahafo is the nation's food basket, farmers there do not get the requisite benefits from their activities.
The region produces a wide range of food and cash crops such as yam, maize, plantain, cashew, mangoes, tomatoes, cassava and cocoa, but our farmers are still poor because most of their produce got perished in the bush due to haulage and infrastructure problems, he said.
Nana Seinti appealed to entrepreneurs to engage in agro-processing ventures to give employment to the youth and to reduce the rural-urban drift.
Almost all developed countries started as small-scale agro-processors to medium and large-scale manufacturers before becoming the industrial giants that they are today, he said.
Nana Seinti gave assurance that the Regional Co-ordinating Council was ready to assist in promoting the businesses of entrepreneurs in the region and asked them not to hesitate to approach it.
Ms Brigitte Heciel Rolf, GTZ Country Director, said the workshop was the first of its kind in the country with the aim of promoting local economic development in the Northern and Brong-Ahafo Regions. She said GTZ was interested in fostering close linkages and cooperation between the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and District Assemblies to create synergies to enhance the impact of its interventions.
Ms. Rolf said instead of supporting and reaching only a limited number of enterprises, GTZ preferred to contribute to the creation of an improved business environment for the broad spectrum of rural and urban dwellers.
Hajia Alima Mahama, Deputy Minister of Trade, in an address read for her, said Government realized that merely reducing poverty among the mass of the population did not in itself generate the needed growth to move the country into a middle-income status by 2010.
This is the reason why Government recognises the need to develop complementary programmes to support her programmes towards that objective, she said and thanked GTZ and other development partners for their role in that context.
Hajia Mahama announced that her Ministry was pursuing a new industrial reform and an accelerated growth programme based on two key strategies, including an export-led industrialization drive, which focuses on agro-processing and manufacturing activities. Another strategy, she said, is to pursue a comprehensive domestic resource-based industrialization programme targeted at producing locally, 70 percent of all non-petroleum government imports.
The Deputy Minister said to achieve the objectives of the strategies the Ministry was pursuing a number of programmes, which were highly district and rural-based such as the Rural Enterprise Development Programme, the rural Trade and Industry Promotion Programme and Development of the craft sector.