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General News of Sunday, 18 October 2015

Source: GNA

Ghana's poverty eradication remarkable - Fiifi Kwetey

Agric Minister Agric Minister

Mr Fiifi Kwetey, Minister of Food and Agriculture, at the weekend said Ghana’s performance in eradicating poverty has been quite remarkable at the national level and in urban areas.

He said, there are pockets of disparities across the 10 regions and socio-economic groups in terms of the depth and incidence of poverty, adding, that the three northern regions, some districts in the south and some food crop farmers have not benefited from the remarkable decline in poverty incidence.

According to the Minister available figures showed that the country has managed to halve extreme poverty from 36.5 per cent to 18.2 per cent from 1991 and 2006 and almost halved the proposition of the people living below the upper poverty line from 51.7 per cent to 28.4 per cent over the same period.

Mr Kwetey who said this in a keynote address to mark this year’s World Food Programme day in Accra noted that this was far ahead of the millennium development goal target year of 2015 but this decline is not reflected everywhere.

Government has therefore resolved to fight food insecurity, reduce poverty and enhance household incomes of the rural poor.

To this end, a number of social protection programmes including the Resilient and Sustainable livelihoods Transformation (RESULT) have been put in place to mitigate the effects of poverty on poor rural farmers, he said.

The RESULTS project has a budgetary support of 19 million Canadian dollars to help government comprehensively tackle the issue of food insecurity and poverty reduction in northern Ghana over a six year period spanning 2012 to 2018.

This seeks to enhance food security and resilience for about 21,000 poor male and female small holder farmers and their households in the northern Ghana.

The aim of the project is to help poor farmers produce more food for their families, generate higher and more stable incomes from diversified sources and establish a threshold of resilience from which they could resist shocks and pursue more market-oriented growth opportunities.

He said in effect, the project offers transformative and sustainability solutions to causes of the lack of access to sufficient nutritious food and the vulnerability to food shortage in the northern regions while promoting community and household resilience to external shocks and stresses.

Mr Kwetey said government is using the RESULT and Northern Rural Growth Programme to address specific constraints affecting women in northern Ghana whilst supporting women’s empowerment across the country.

According to him, government, with the support of Internal Fund for Agricultural development has spent $ 1.3 million to mitigate poverty in the three regions of the North, part of Volta and Brong- Ahafo regions under Northern Rural Growth Programme.

He said 53,000 women, representing 48 per cent of total beneficiaries, were trained in the production of soya, maize, vegetable, picking and processing of shear and provided small scale irrigation schemes for small scale farmers including women.

He said 646.2km of feeder roads have been constructed to link farms to marketing centres to enhance farmers’ income.

He said these resource-poor farmers have been equipped with technology including technical assistance in climate change adaptation and disaster risk management practices that are required to be successful.

The sector Minister said the programme is supporting income alternative income generating activities to increase and diversify incomes at the household level while increasing access to markets for both agriculture and non-agricultural products.

Ms Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Fisheries said data indicate that more than 60 per cent of chronic hunger all over the world is experienced by female –headed households, and about five million children under the age of five die annually of malnutrition related causes.

Ghana health demographic survey (2014) indicated that 57, 1 per cent of the poorest households have their children under five stunted and malnourished while 62 per cent of these households are located in rural communities, which have serious implications for government’s efforts to reduce hunger and arm the rural poor and the disadvantaged with the tools to effectively fight poverty in all its forms.

She said the fisheries sector provides livelihood support to more than 2.7 million of the population and also taken other policy initiatives to confront the issue of hunger, national food insecurity and breaking the cycle of poverty.

These include; supporting fishing communities to adapt to climate change practices, enhancing fish production particularly aquaculture, promoting alternative livelihood support programmes as social protection mechanisms to ensure sustainable income generation for rural poor fishing communities and investing in fisheries infrastructure.

The Ministry is also implementing nucleus out grower input support scheme that aims at enhancing domestic fish production by an additional 84,000mt by 2017, which is creating 900 direct jobs and more than 1830 indirect jobs for women, unemployed rural youth, fish processors and traders, she said.

She indicated that in 2015, the Ministry assisted fishing communities with 1,000 outboard motors to increase fish catch and income levels and with the support of FAO and Development partners the Ministry introduced the Thiaroye oven technology to fish processors and smoked fish exporters.

In order to reduce post-harvest losses and improve returns on investment for fishers in Ghana, six cold stores were constructed at Nyanyano, Korantse, New Takoradi, Prampram, Half Assini and Shama and fish processing plant is currently under construction at Elmina which by products would be used for the production of fish feed to boost Aquaculture fish production and create additional jobs for vulnerable fishing communities, she said.

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