Ghana and The Netherlands have an enduring relationship that dates back nearly a century. The rapport between the two countries has flourished and continues to show significant promise in the areas of sports, business, education and notably, agriculture-where the latter has gained global recognition for ‘agricultural brilliance’.
About twenty years ago, the Netherlands made a national commitment akin to the “Planting for Food and Jobs” which Ghana is currently banking the much-anticipated revitalization of her agricultural sector on.
Like the “Planting for Food and Jobs”, the Netherlands rolled out her national agriculture agenda with a goal of “Producing Twice as Much Food Using Half as Many Resources”.
Having laid the marker for a national policy, the Dutch took full advantage without hesitation. The result is the lofty heights the country occupies in the League of Nations who provide the world’s wholesome agricultural produce.
At the recently concluded 9th Pre-Harvest Agribusiness Exhibitions and Conference Event held in Tamale from September 25th -27th 2019, H.E Ron Strikker, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Ghana delivered a multi-themed speech at the annual event under the theme, “Market accessibility: The Structured and Sustainable Pathway”
In the preliminary part of his speech, he praised the effort of the event organizers and went on to eulogize his country’s grandiose reputation in global agriculture.
“I am very pleased to be at the 9th Pre-harvest Agribusiness Exhibition and conference, here in the beautiful town Tamale. And let me congratulate the Agrihouse Foundation, and in particular the Executive Director, Mrs. Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa, for having organized this important event.
Let me begin my speech by saying if it is about Agriculture, then Holland has to be there! talk Agriculture, talk Holland.
The Netherlands is second biggest exporter of agricultural produce in the world. Over the last three years, the Dutch agricultural sector exported an average of more than E65 billions of agricultural produce annually. If we include inputs like seeds etc., technology and machinery, this would add up to some 90 plus billion euro a year. Three quarters is Dutch made. This constitutes roughly 20% of the total Dutch economy and employment, in which the agricultural/horticultural sectors play a crucial role.
The dominant features are: Innovation, not only in technological terms but how to organize ourselves: Public Private partnerships amongst others. We call it the Dutch Diamond: Farmers/ entrepreneurs, knowledge and Research institutes, Government and NGO’S. They join hands every single day in order to make agriculture productive and sustainable.”
He spoke effusively about the Netherlands unwavering commitment to Ghanaian agriculture and applauded the country’s enormous potential. H.E Ron Strikker also pointed out the huge opportunities available in the northern region and the host of support initiatives that the Netherlands supports directly and otherwise.
“The Dutch government feels the responsibility – underline: responsibility – to share this knowledge and know-how with others, including countries like Ghana. We all live on the same planet and we have, therefore a common responsibility to ensure not only there is sufficient and healthy food for everybody but also that is being produced in a sustainable manner. We are all confronted with the threat of climate change. Our common goals are sustainable development goals, there are goals for us, Holland and Ghana included.
Now a few words on Holland and Ghana: The Northern region is the all the necessary ingredients to drive the changes, we need in the agriculture sector: vast arable land, water for irrigation, animal production, and the people to make agriculture a success. This exhibition underlines the agricultural potential of the North, and rightly so. But transformation is needed.
For that transformation, we think the starting point should be farming should be market driven, modernized and be seen as a business. The farmer is an entrepreneur who wants to make his/her farming a profitable business. Only in such a manner can, in the end, he or she earns a decent income and moreover – can we make agriculture attractive to the youth.
This is the dominant feature our Ghana/Netherlands agricultural flagship programs.
Number one is GhanaVeg, now Hortifresh, which promotes the growing of healthy green vegetables (peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers) it, will change eating in Ghana! It focuses on the farmers who want to make a difference; they will take other (out growers) along.
Number two and three are is the cocoa Rehabilitation and intensification program (CORIP) and oil palm (Sustainable West African Palm oil program (SWAPP) programs. Better farming practices and inputs have resulted in yield increases double/ triple plus youth job creation.
There are also programs in the North. In the ‘Masara N’ Arziki’ near Trumu project (solidaridad) participating and very committed maize farmers have seen huge productivity increases through the supply of quality inputs, better extension services, modern warehousing to cut post-harvest losses. And they have much better access to the markets!
In Sisili-Kulpawn basin Yagba, the integrated water & Agricultural Development Ghana limited (IWAD) has the ambition to proof that commercially viable irrigated agriculture in the north of Ghana is not a dream but can a reality. Some 400 hectares are being taken into sustainable production and further extension is being envisaged.
Indeed, the North has the needed ingredients to make agriculture a success. But not only the farmer plays a key role, help from other remain needed. Mains issues are land rights/usage and access to finance. Both are crucial for agriculture to move forward.”
On the marauding threat of climate change, the diplomat disclosed his country’s ingenious plans to mitigate it. He assured of the Netherlands’ commitment to partnering Ghana to stem the effects of climate change.
“My last comment is about climate change. The Netherlands intends to move to circular agriculture by 2030. This transformation is fundamental. In a circular agriculture system, arable farming, livestock farming and horticulture primarily use raw materials from each other’s supply chain and water flows from the food industry and food supply chains.
Residues are hereby re-used or re-processed into new or auxiliary products We want to share our experiences and knowledge with Ghana, Holland and Ghana to grow together in agriculture/ to grow plenty and healthy food without over exploiting our planet.” He concluded.
The Pre-harvest Agribusiness Conference and Exhibition is deliberately designed to coincide with the pre-harvest period when farmers and other value chain actors are readying for the dynamics of the harvest season.
The platform presents a unique opportunity for stakeholders as it helps them to identify and take advantage of the stream of prospects offered by the local agricultural sector.
Just like last year, the event took a three-day dimension; with organizer’s structuring the event to reflect in-depth insights, actionable and practical tools of engagement models, methods and mechanisms for improved productivity by industry firms. Led by experienced resource persons, participants savoured riveting seminar sessions which had been deliberately structured to improve knowledge and stimulate a collective vision for a better agricultural sector.
The event drew key actors in the various sectors of the agricultural value chain such as farmers, buyers, processors, transporters, input dealers, equipment dealers, and financial institutions, policy makers among others to interact and share knowledge.
Similarly, government officials, international donor organizations, the Diplomatic Community among others took advantage of the event to promote knowledge exchange and incite a renewed drive for exploring practical ways through which the sector could become more attractive and profitable for industry players.
The Pre-harvest Agribusiness Exhibition and Conference is an interventional medium that offers practical prospects for value chain actors to meet, discuss business, contracts and work together as a coherent team to ensure that enough produce is available locally for consumption; thereby mitigating the risks associated with excessive importation. The annual agric showpiece is made up of farmers, public and private sector business officials and other stakeholders who collectively share an innate desire to see an improved agricultural sector for Ghana.
The event also provides participants a platform where diverse services linked to the agric sector, such as seed production, fertilizer, finance, fisheries, storage, machinery, livestock, and packaging & processing, ICT among others can be assessed.
Partakers of the event equally benefitted from applied and engaging sessions designed to encourage deeper insights into best practices and how to take the most of the prevalent opportunities in the agric sector for progress and increase.
This year, the event recorded an impressive turnout of 2,937 participants and 150 exhibitors including farmers, traders, commodity brokers, input companies, machinery and equipment providers, transporters, financial institutions, ICT, Innovations, Poultry and Livestock companies, packaging and processing companies, development practitioners and government agencies, among others; and subsequently clinched the Agribusiness event of the Year award.
Organizers hold that the showpiece will ultimately help address and find lasting solutions to a myriad of challenges confronting the industry today by assisting farmers and agri-businesses expand their businesses before and after harvest and create an enabling environment for new partnerships to promote the growth of Ghana’s agricultural sector.
Introduced in October 2010 in Tamale in the Northern Region of Ghana by the USAID ADVANCE, the Annual Pre-harvest Agribusiness Exhibitions and Conference event allows for further growth, sustainability and expansion. The USAID ADVANCE project has partnered with and subsequently handed over the organization of Pre-Harvest event to Agrihouse Foundation.
For optimum impact, organizers designed event sessions to give participants in-depth insight into the state of the industry today and the opportunities that lie ahead. Commodity Break-out session, Intensive and focused Training Programs, Farmer to Buyer Dialogue, Development Partner Forum are some of the sessions designed for the benefit of participants.
In the same strain, Panel Education sessions revolved around pertinent topics like Climate-smart agricultural approach and practices, Achieving an Innovative integrated food security & nutrition results, Market accessibility pathway, Production, process and export impact to Rural development and Food security.
Training Sessions designed to improve that capacity of participants for improved productivity bothered on Warehousing and Storage technologies for post-harvest losses, Basic-to-advanced Financial Literacy education for Farmer Groups, Improving high and quality yields through appropriate production practices, Branding for Marketing Commercial Impact, Going digital to promote and grow your market, Developing a Business plan and Negotiation Skills .
Other pertinent topics addressed included: How will Ghana’s Agric Sector look like in 2023? What collective role can stakeholders play to change the face of the Agricultural sector, with a focus on input, production, processing, finance, branding, packaging and market accessibility?, Together, what can Government and Corporate organizations do to support and bridge the gap of pricing and access?, How structured and competitive is Governments projects, subsidy and initiatives impacting on the markets and accessibility? What Technological Innovations in Agriculture can attract the Modern Youth? How do we breed the next generation of Agricultural Entrepreneurs? Etc.
There was also a Business-to-Business Matchmaking session, Educational Field Trips, Policy Dialogue: Fertilizer subsidy policy boost / Update on Export for rural development and Exhibitions.
The 9th Pre-harvest Agribusiness Exhibitions and Conference was organized by Agrihouse Foundation. A non-governmental agricultural social impact, capacity building, innovation and project management organization with a special focus on changing the perception of, and consciously shaping the conversation on agriculture through the promotion of people-impact initiatives and programs for students, women, farmers, farming associations, agribusinesses and the entire actors within the value chain.
The 9th Preharvest Agribusiness Conference and Exhibitions was collectively sponsored by UKaid, The MADE Programme, Yara Ghana, Ecobank, Kosmos Energy, GCX, Chemico ltd with partnership support from the Northern Regional Coordinating Council, the Northern Development Authority and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.