President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, has pledged to support Ghana in the area of rice production and cocoa production and stressed that the country has no business importing rice.
Speaking during a dinner hosted by the Minister of Finance in Accra, Mr. Adesina noted that Ghana with about 400 hectares of unproductive land in the Northern Region good for agriculture, the country has what it takes to increase its rice production levels.
“One of our High 5s is to ‘Feed Africa.’ Coming from the airport, I was speaking to the Honourable Minister of Finance about northern Ghana, and I was saying that northern Ghana has over 400,000 hectares of land which is very good for agriculture. Ghana absolutely has no business at all importing rice. You are spending US$400 million a year importing what you should be exporting. I think we are going to do something about that. It is one of the key issues that we are going to be discussing,” he said.
The AfDB president disclosed that plans are far advanced for the bank to support Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to transform the cocoa industry and create more wealth and jobs from the product.
“You are trying with 40% of cocoa production, but you can do more. The bank will support you and Côte d’Ivoire with how you can coordinate your production and also your market support to avoid the fluctuations that you currently see. I have a firm belief that God has given every nation what they need to develop and to strive. The issue is what you do with it. We have a programme that we are going to be discussing with you,” the AfDB president emphasized.
Thanking the Ghanaian government for making the visit possible, Mr. Adesina stressed how the country had made steady progress since the Presidential election in January, this year.
“Consistent with its ‘Feed Africa’ strategy, the African Development Bank will support Ghanaian government efforts to improve the underperforming value chains which fail to add enough value to agricultural produce; to repair and rebuild inadequate infrastructure; to improve access to agricultural financing; and to reduce volatility in the international price of cocoa.”
He stressed why the continent needs to give the youth the tools and the means to stay in Africa and to prosper by doing so and said the bank is ready to contribute to the stabilization of the energy sector in Ghana.
In his address, the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, commended AfDB’s work in Ghana and expressed optimism that the partnership would be strengthened with Mr. Adesina’s visit and commended the bank for stepping in to ensure that Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire work together to change the cocoa narrative.
“As a country, we believe that we need to get back to basics and the beauty of Mr. Adesina’s Presidency is this clarity on agriculture and the need for us to have food security, and more importantly, power and the whole concept of industrialization. And it is exciting to have someone who has had quite a lot of experience and success in Nigeria as Agriculture Minister at this time when we most need it,” he said.
Last year, the African Development Bank and the European Investment Bank launched ‘Boost Africa,’ an initiative that provides support to the earliest and riskiest stage of the entrepreneurial value chain via a funding mechanism that will channel €150 million to 2,000 young entrepreneurs, and create 75,000 direct jobs and 500,000 indirect jobs.