The Government has secured a $200 million loan facility from the World Bank to support the coconut sector and three other tree crop commodities to increase production for export.
The facility will support a programme known as the ‘Tree Crop Diversification Project’, which would enable the Tree Crops Development Authority (TCDA) to undertake research and development of different varieties of coconut, cashew, mango and rubber.
The financial support would also go into strengthening institutional value chain governance, improving tree crop adaptation and climate change resilience and support post-harvest management and value addition lapses of the four selected tree crops.
Dr Bryan Acheampong, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, announced this in a speech read on his behalf during the launch of the 2023 International Coconut Festival in Accra on Thursday.
The TCDA is expected to work closely with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to develop disease-resistant varieties for the four tree crops.
The Project, the Minister said would help upscale the production of the selected tree crops for export and position Ghana as a leader in the global market.
The International Coconut Festival is scheduled from September 26 to 28, 2023, in Takoradi of the Western Region.
The event would be characterised by exhibitions, seminars, networking, capacity-building workshops for farmers and negotiations with financial institutions for funding.
“Invest in Ghana’s Coconut Sector for an Inclusive Economic Transformation and Improved Climate and Social Resilience” was the theme for the Festival.
The event is being jointly organised by the Ghana Export Promotion Authority, the Western Regional Coordinating Council, the African Coconut Group and the Tree Crops Development.
Mr. Albert Kassim Diwura, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer, GEPA, expressed optimism that the launch of the Coconut Festival would propell the coconut agenda to a greater heights.
“We are excited because this project, which was started to improve the coconut sector, is gathering momentum and has the potential to position Ghana as a premier hub for coconuts on the African continent.
In 2017, he said, the Authority started the Coconut Revitalization Programme, to improve the supply capacity of the value chain and revitalise the once-struggling coconut sector.
The rising global demand for coconuts was the driving force behind the intervention, he added.
“While we acknowledge that coconut production is a multi-billion dollar industry, it is important to note that all the top-producing nations, mostly in Asia, are earning significant rewards as a result of the significant investments in the value chain, Mr. Diwura noted.
He called on the business community in Ghana to explore opportunities within the coconut industry.
“Ghana is well-positioned to emerge as a leading global supplier of coconut products, thereby generating significant export revenues.
“GEPA has undertaken notable and impactful investments in the sector since 2017. We have procured and disseminated disease-resistant coconut seedlings to farmers across the major coconut farming regions in the country”
To date, nearly 800 seedlings have been distributed, covering over 12,500 acres.
The Western Region has also outdoored a programme to distribute five million seedlings which was launched in 2020.
Mr. Diwura gave the assurance that GEPA would continue to support the coconut sector with unwavering commitment until it became self-sufficient.
He acknowledged the considerable investments made by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, as well as the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, through the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) programme.
Also, he acknowledged the crucial role the African Coconut Group, led by Mr. Davies Korboe, its chairman played in promoting sectoral growth.
The government’s establishment of the TCDA is noteworthy and supports its ardent advocacy.
The TCDA’s initiatives are poised to fortify the sector, with coconut being a vital tree crop within its purview, he said .
The Authority earnestly called for enhanced inter-institutional cooperation to accelerate the coconut sector’s advancement.
“We remain optimistic and encouraged by the support we are receiving, and we invite other stakeholders to join hands and contribute to these endeavours.
“These coordinated efforts have the potential to firmly position Ghana as a global leader in coconut production and export,” Mr. Diwura said.
The past five decades, the Authority has been steadfast in its mission to cultivate, facilitate, and elevate Ghanaian exports through diversification, leading to augmented export revenue and economic progress.
The Authority, he said, in recent years witnessed the implementation of various initiatives that were yielding tangible outcomes.
Notably, the implementation phase of the National Export Development Strategy (NEDS), which commenced last year, with a goal to generate a minimum of $25.3 billion by 2029.
While this objective may be formidable, Mr. Diwura said, GEPA was unwavering in its resolve to fulfil that vision.
“Consequently, we have deepened collaborations with both public and private stakeholders in the export sector, culminating in the establishment of the NEDS Coordinating Secretariat, which has been operational since 2021.
The exponential growth of countries like China and India is a testament to the transformative potential of export-oriented policies. Our nation’s progress hinges on substantial investments in the export sector,”he noted.
According to statistics from the 2022 non-traditional exports, the earnings for fresh and processed coconuts stood at $6.3 million, noting that the figure underscored the substantial potential for growth.
He believed that proper policies and targeted interventions had the capacity to harness the potential of coconut sector to generate more revenue for the nation.
He was of the opinion that the Festival would be one of the avenues to showcase the coconut sector’s potential to local and international investors.
The coconut value chain, he said, presented numerous opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with technical and financial support, to enable them experience exponential growth, extend their market reach domestically and abroad.
He reaffirmed GEPA’s unflinching dedication to the coconut industry and believed in its potential to generate substantial export revenue for the country.
The Authority, he said, was resolutely dedicated to collaborating with its stakeholders in elevating the coconut value chain to unprecedented levels.