President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has projected that the country can rake in about $1 billion earnings from vegetable exports in seven years.
Inaugurating the Akumadan Greenhouse Village in Akumadan in the Ofinso North District in the Ashanti Region yesterday, the President said estimates indicated that cultivating three selected vegetables in greenhouses could generate over GH¢2.49 million a year.
Known as the Akumadan Greenhouse Capacity Building Centre and Commercial Units, the village is one of three modules covering 13,500 square metres, of which 4,500 square metres is being used to cultivate tomatoes, sweet pepper and cucumber.
There are two other greenhouses with similar facilities at Dawhenya in the Greater Accra Region and Bawjiase in the Central Region.
The three centres run a three-month training programme for 30 agricultural graduates at a time.
Ghana Beyond Aid
Addressing the large gathering of enthusiastic youth, chiefs and people of the surrounding areas, President Akufo-Addo said, for instance, that a hectare of tomatoes would produce 150 tonnes a year, with a market value of GH¢843,150, while a hectare of sweet pepper was also expected to yield 150 tonnes, valued at GH¢837,000 a year, with a hectare of cucumber yielding 150 tonnes a year, valued at GH¢810,000.
He stressed that the overarching vision of the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda was to rally the citizenry and resources to develop Ghana to achieve self-reliance and dignity.
To rake in the revenues, he said, the government was working to expand greenhouse villages to all parts of the country.
“Today’s programme is a clear indication of our genuine commitment to attain Ghana Beyond Aid,” the President explained.
The quiet and calm learning centre came alive yesterday as hundreds of youth, New Patriotic Party (NPP) supporters and traditional leaders defied the over three-kilometre dusty road linking the centre to converge on the venue.
Most of them made it on foot in groups, amidst singing, drumming, dancing and praising the President for what they described as his human-centred social intervention programmes.
The inauguration ceremony was preceded with a mini-carnival and durbar of chiefs and a large number of NPP supporters, who were clad in the party’s colours and carried placards with messages extolling the achievements of the government and the President.
The arrival of the President almost resulted in a stampede, as both the youth and adults poured onto the premises of the centre to catch a glimpse of him.
Not even the assistance of a military officer, who went to the aid of the company’s security at the gate, prevented the crowd from surging to enter the premises.
On the greenhouse facilities, President Akufo-Addo said: “It is expected that the benefit of the experience gained from training in the greenhouse villages will impact the local market by taking over supplies to hotels, restaurants and so on.
“The added benefit is that food tourism will also receive a boost from patronage of our local food produce to enhance businesses and incomes.”
He pledged that going forward, the government would continue to collaborate with Ghana’s development partners to ensure hands-on training to expand vegetable production in the country.
Planting for Food and Jobs
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, said the inauguration of the village was significant because the greenhouse villages module under the Planting for Food and Jobs programme was the least known.
Describing the inauguration as historic, he said: “This has never happened in the history of Ghana: that you have three sites with top-notch technology on greenhouse with a huge component for the training of our youth, some of whom have gone to Israel and back and another set is there for hands-on training in the technology. These are the eggs which are going to hatch the big enterprises.”
The Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr Simon Osei-Mensah, said since assuming office, President Akufo-Addo had implemented a number of inclusive and human-centred projects which clearly testified to the fact that the transformational agenda was truly on course.
For his part, the Chief Executive Officer of STL Africa Ltd, developers of the greenhouse technology, Mr Herzi Makmal, said the company was proud to be part of a programme that promoted the development of agriculture in the country.