A pre-harvest agribusiness conference and exhibition, on the theme: “Connecting the unconnected: The farmer-the-buyer and the market”, is underway in Tamale in the Northern Region.

The three-day annual event, which is in its 12th year, began last Tuesday. It serves as a platform for the entire agribusiness eco-system in the north to dialogue and exhibit products.

It is being organised by the Agrihouse Foundation, an NGO, in partnership with ECOBANK, Yara International, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and the Northern Regional Coordinating Council (NRCC).

Among the participants are fertiliser, irrigation and seed companies; dealers in tractors, machinery and equipment; technology firms, banks and financial institutions; processors, researchers, government institutions and development partners.

A Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Yaw Frimpong Addo, said the government was committed to ensuring a paradigm shift in agriculture from being a way of life to a serious business.

He said the government would continue to place emphasis on adding value to the country’s agricultural produce for export and local consumption to create wealth for farmers and jobs for the teeming youth.

“Agriculture in any form should no longer be constrained or limited by socio-economic, cultural and other factors.

“The ministry has been tackling the fundamentals through the introduction of new policy initiatives and strategies under the Planting for Food and Jobs, our flagship programme,” Mr Addo added.

He commended the organisers of the annual event, saying it set the agenda to reap the full potential in agriculture through the creation of market linkages for actors in the value chain.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Agrihouse Foundation, Alberta Nana Akosua Akyea, said the event had, for the past years, become a leading market linkage on the country’s agricultural calendar

It also created opportunities for direct members and partners of the agricultural community to come together through exhibitions, field and practical training and demonstrations, buying and selling, as well as networking, she said.

“I am happy to report that for the past 11 years, Agrihouse and its partners, through this platform, have been connecting and engaging the agricultural sector, linking small-scale farmers and groups to buyers and connecting international agribusinesses to local ones,” she said.

According to her, the conference had recorded about 118 exhibitors, with a 45 per cent increase in exhibitor participation this year, adding that much sale of inputs such as machinery and equipment had been made.

The Northern Regional Minister, Shani Alhassan Shaibu, also commended the Agrihouse Foundation for organising the event over the years to connect farmers to various actors in the agricultural value chain.

He said despite the fact that agriculture was the backbone of the country’s economy, accounting for over 74 per cent of northern Ghana’s employment, it was unfortunate that the rich and diverse agricultural potential of the region remained untapped.