As a country with its own fair share of workable land suited for the cultivation of a vast array of different crop types, there is no reason that Ghana should not be a world leader in the business of organic export. With over half of the land in the country prime and suitable to be used in an agricultural capacity, it may come as a surprise to many that current output is far from matching up to such on-paper potential.
While each area of the industry has its own problems to attend to, the subject of this piece is set to draw popular attention towards the matter of citrus production in Ghana. With the recent news of a bold new scheme being launched within the nation, which seeks to greatly benefit this struggling area of the Ghanaian agricultural industry, perhaps it’s time to reflect upon what this could mean for Ghana’s citrus farmers.
Initiating proceedings with a recently held four-day workshop which included over 50 native citrus farmers, the Israeli Agency for International Development Cooperation (MASHAV) have set into motion a scheme which hopes to greatly empower Ghana’s citrus farmers, and in turn improve their productivity/market potential over the coming seasons.
The product of a trilateral agreement signed in 2010 by representatives of MASHAV, the Ghanaian Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) as well as the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), the first workshop was held in Cape Coast earlier this month.
On the topic of the scheme, a statement from the Israeli Embassy in Accra released earlier this month read: ‘this falls in line with MoFA’s policy to enhance productivity for increased income and improve livelihood through the adoption of scientifically proven technologies and best practices in citrus production.’
With this, the hopes, aims and objectives of such an intervention are realized, with the policy hopefully set to spark a chain of similar strategies which will improve other struggling areas of domestically based commerce in Ghana.
The training involved in the workshop itself reportedly focused on such aspects as improving agronomic management in relation to the likes of pests and diseases common in the production of citrus crops, as well as correctly planning, maintaining and irrigating crops according to need, specification and abundance.
Proper resistance against problematic crop disease is undoubtedly an issue towards which Ghanaian citrus crop farmers can share some common compassion, with their ongoing war pitched against the now notorious Citrus Black Spot (CBS) ailment surely playing testament to this fact. Looking ahead, aims for the future appear to now center around how best to prepare tomorrows native farmers to appropriately tackle the likes of CBS as opposed to making do with the loss of half of an annual crop, not to mention the financial guarantees that rot along with it.
Ultimately, it is notions such as this one which will speak the highest volumes, especially among the younger generations responsible for overseeing the maintenance of our nation’s crops in the future. While Ghana has never turned a cheek towards the essentiality of properly preparing the young to fill necessary societal roles, or for that matter towards allowing them the freedom to strive towards a particular target or vision and making it their own, it cannot be denied that the current worldwide economic climate has put some strain on progress in this area. Future-proofing is a concept applicable to each and every aspect of most modern societies, and it requires little thought into the topic to determine that the best place to start is with the younger generations, regardless of the field in question. Allowing young people fair access to programs such as the one discussed in this article, not to mention other valuable start-up resources could just make the difference between poverty and prosperity in the unsure decades which lie ahead for us all.
With more workshops planned to take place in the very near future, all of which are to be organized, funded and curated by the somewhat unlikely union of MASHAV/MoFA/GIV, the future for Ghana’s citrus farmers and their delicious wholesome crops looks set to be one of problem solving, positive international alliances and deserved profit, as opposed to trial, error and tragedy.
Melissa Hathaway is a freelance writer and full time mother of two. She gave up work in import and export in order to work from home and hone her writing skills. Always reading, she loves to get out of the house at sunrise and sunset to take her pet dogs for a walk