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Business News of Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Source: GNA

‘Africa must harness technology for productivity’

Dr Hannah Liousa Bissiw, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) in charge of Livestock, on Monday expressed the need for African countries to use science and technology to improve on productivity.

She said as most African countries depend largely on their agricultural sectors to lead the transformation of their economies, “we cannot but strive to improve our agricultural sectors through the application of science and technology”.

Dr Bissiw, who was speaking at the opening of Ghana/Kenya Trade and Investment Mission in Accra, said the need for African countries to expand trade among themselves and invest in the agricultural sectors could not be overemphasised.

The Mission follows the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in December 2014 in Nairobi to promote trade, investments, exchange of science and technology and knowledge between Ghana and Kenya.

President John Dramani Mahama during an official visit to Kenya last year also signed seven bilateral agreements with the country to ease the conditions for doing business and boosting bilateral trade relations.

Dr Bissiw said the mission provided both countries the opportunity to elaborate cooperation areas in the MOU and put in place a plan of action to realise the ideals.

“During this current mission, we would also have a business forum for private sector actors, share and explore business opportunities and connect with each other,” she said.

She said as at 2014, total non-traditional exports excluding cocoa, minerals and timber from Ghana to Kenya was 236 Metric tonnes valued of $1.3 million.

The Deputy Minister said agricultural products constituted only 14.5 per cent of those exports and nearly all was cocoa powder adding; “there are several other agricultural commodities, products and services we can trade in for the mutual benefit of the two countries”.

“With cocoa, there are many other products we can trade apart from the powder. There are also tubers like yam, cassava that we can trade with Kenya. Similarly, we can buy tea, coffee and livestock products from Kenya,” she said.

Mrs Benita Okiti Dua, Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, said the Ministry aims to increase aquaculture production from 27,750 metric tonnes to 130,000 metric tonnes by 2017, raising the market share of commercially farmed fish from three per cent to 30 per cent.

This, she said, would generate about 220,000 jobs across the value chain and conserve foreign exchange.

She said the aquaculture industry in Ghana has high prospects for development due to abundant natural endowment like good climatic conditions, vast fresh water resources, soils with high water retention, capable labour force and good investment climate.

Mrs Okiti Dua cited inadequate hatcheries, high feeding costs, inadequate cold chain facilities and inadequate credit as some of the challenges of the sub-sector which offer opportunities for investors and financial institutions.

Ms Sicily Kariuki, the Principal Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, said the trade mission provides a platform for business community, investors and government technocrats of both countries to operate and exchange ideas, products, capital, expertise and technology for mutual benefits.

She said the December 2014 MOU came at the time when African countries are looking inwards for intra-trade among themselves.

She said though Africa had witnessed a vibrant political cooperation, it is not the same when it comes to trade and investment and expressed the need for the strengthening of those sectors.

Ms Kariuki said the two countries have a lot to borrow from each other especially in some key value chains where either country has comparative advantage over the other.

“For example Kenya can learn from Ghana on cassava production and processing and tuber processing for export, palm oil industry and marine fish processing. Ghana on the other hand, can learn from Kenya’s cooperative marketing approach using the small scale tea value chain model, which is one of the most widely appreciated in the world.

“On meat processing, Kenya has one of the best practices on meat processing despite the few challenges faced in the subsector in the recent past,” she said.

Kenya is an investment hub in East African region due to its geographical position and conducive investment environment. Some of the well-known produce of Kenya includes tea, coffee, milk products, meat, honey, horticultural produce such as flowers, fruits, vegetables, nuts, sisal among others.