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Volta MPs Decry Exclusion of Region from Tree Crop Diversification Project

Some Members of Parliament from the Volta Region have registered their displeasure at the exclusion of the Volta Region from a national project aimed at diversifying tree crops in the country.

This came up on the Floor of Parliament on Friday, December 8, 2023, during the consideration of the Finance Committee’s Report on the Credit Agreement between the Government of Ghana and the World Bank Group for an amount of Two Hundred Million United States Dollars (US$200,000,000) to finance the Ghana Tree Crop Diversification Project (GTCDP).

The GTCDP is designed to be implemented by the Tree Crops Development Authority (TCDA) and Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) under the supervision of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA). The five-year development strategy (2022-2027) targets six priority tree crops: cashew, shea, mango, coconut, rubber, and oil palm.

It aims to regulate and develop a sustainable sector focusing on (i) research support, (ii) production and value chain support including commercialization; (iii) capacity building, and (iv) licensing and regulation.

Tree crops generate income for subsistence households as well as for commercial producers. While production constitutes just 24 percent of the land area cultivated, and 9 percent of the total volume of crops produced, they account for 85 percent of Ghana’s total agricultural exports, 70 percent of which is cocoa.

During the consideration of the Committee’s report, the Member of Parliament for South Dayi, Rockson-Nelson Etse Kwami Dafeamekpor first raised the House’s attention to the fact that the Volta region is very prominent in the production of Coconut, yet has been conspicuously missing from the list of regions to benefit from the tree crop investment project.

He therefore demanded that the coastal areas of the Volta region which have a history of producing coconut trees in the country, be included in the beneficiary areas before the approval of the loan.

He said, “Mr. Speaker, I am sad because as a Government we have decided to implement this policy in some regions minus the Volta region. Mr. Speaker, when we talk of tree crops, in fact, my hometown “hwe” which is called Cape Saint Paul, cannot be left out. Mr. Speaker, the disease that destroyed coconut in this country first originated from Cape Saint Paul and so the disease is called “Cape Saint Paul.” So, if you want to replace coconut plantations in this country, it has to start from the Volta Region.

“When we speak of ecological zones in this country that support the growth of coconut, I believe the Volta Region will rank first or second. Mr. Speaker, even the famous Western Region is omitted. So, on what basis were the ecological zones selected?

“Mr. Speaker, I speak passionately about this matter. Even though I want to support the approval of this facility, Mr. Speaker I am demanding that as a citizen of this country that hails from the Volta Region, we should be included in the first phase of this project. Mr. Speaker, there is no basis why the Volta Region should be omitted.”

The Member of Parliament for Keta in the Volta Region, Kwame Dzudzorli Gakpey, also showed that the Volta region already has a thriving industry around coconut, mango, and cashew production. He therefore submitted that he believes that the Volta Region was deliberately removed from the list for reasons that were unclear to him because the region is among the prominent tree crop producers in the country.

“Mr. Speaker, in this country the Volta region, Central and Western Regions produce coconut more than any other region. And then when the Tree Crop Development Authority is going to promote tree crops such as coconut, which regions are these supposed to go to?

“In Volta Region, we produce coconut, mango, and cashews. When you are earmarking the regions and zoning them for this facility, the Volta Region was deliberately removed from the list. Why am I saying this?

“Volta Region was not included in the loan facility concerning coconut. Meanwhile, we want to maximize and produce more coconut. In terms of value addition, there is a component of the loan that will support value addition. These must be put at strategic areas where coconut from Central, Western, and the Volta regions can be processed,” he lamented.

There was a sharp rebuttal by the Chairman of the Finance Committee, Kwaku Kwarteng who observed that the stands taken by the MPs were rather unfortunate and were not good for national cohesion because the Volta Region was not deliberately omitted. He emphasized that the selection was done by technical people with empirical information.

“Mr. Speaker, we have just done a facility for the coastal areas dedicated largely to the Volta Region, and for a Member of Parliament to speak as though there is a deliberate strategy to exclude people who should be included in this facility is most unfortunate and we should move away from that.”

On the same day, the House also approved two additional loan facilities including the Concessional Financing Agreement between the Government of Ghana and the International Development Association for an amount of One Hundred and Fifty Million United States Dollars (US$150,000,000.00) for the West Africa Coastal Areas Resilience Investment Project 2).

The other is the Additional Financing Agreement for an amount of One Hundred and Fifty Million United States Dollars (US$150,000,000.00) to finance the Ghana Productive Safety Net Project 2.

Source: Clement Akoloh||parliamentnews360.com

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