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Business News of Monday, 19 December 2016

Source: B&FT

Project to transform yam value chain

President of the Federation of Associations of Ghanaian Exporters (FAGE) and chairman of the Yam Development Council, Tony Sikpa, has reiterated the council’s commitment to promote the cultivation of yam as a cash crop like cocoa.

He said his outfit is poised to transform the yam production value chain into an industry that can engage more labour and significantly contribute to national development.

Speaking to the B&FT on the sidelines of the Alliances for Action Women and Trade Roundtable Programme in Accra, he said: “The whole idea is to give yam farmers, especially women, new sources of income.

It’s about increasing the volume of yam produced, improving the quality and diversifying the market. We want to make it’s a sustainable way as a means of turning agriculture into a business venture.

We want to grow the yam sector just like cocoa to feed industry aside creating a source of income for farmers. By this, we will bring more people into the industry and to move the country forward.”

The Alliances for Action Project, comprised of the Ghana Roots Crops and Tubers Exporters Union (GROCTEU), the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Fairtrade Africa, Food Research Institute (FRI), among others, has introduced yam farmers to new opportunities for income such as growing yam as seed.

It seeks the collaboration of all actors in the yam production value chain towards the diversification and value addition to yam by leveraging extensively on research and extension support to improve the livelihood of farmers, especially women.

Mr. Sikpa said: “Currently, we complain that research works are sitting on the shelves and we are not using it. It’s because we are not bringing it down to the user level.

With this project, we are showing farmers that if you want to grow yam, then grow quality to attract bigger and choicer markets.”

The FAGE boss hinted that the methodology being used to boost yam production will be used with other crops such shea nuts, cashew, pineapple and papaya to give farmers sustainable and different stream of income.

“We are showing yam farmers to do things in a proper and scientific way; in the near future, we expect that we should have quality yam in the country all year round.

We expect we can find yam bread, yam cake, yam ice cream, yam spaghetti on the shelves in our supermarkets. That is how we can turn yam into an industry.

Beyond that, we expect to extend this methodology to other crops and very soon we will see an increase in the yield of crops that we produce in the country. We can reduce the dependency on just one crop as a cash crop.”