The Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, Jeroen Verheul, has urged stakeholders in the horticultural industry to forge partnerships to speed up the development of the vegetable sector.
“We need this exchange, and we need this being together,” he said, adding that the Netherlands was highly interested in promoting collaboration to enhance the growth of the sector.
He said the sector was important for enhancing economic growth if stakeholders worked together and created the right environment.
The Ambassador was speaking at the opening of a three-day Fruit and Vegetable Fair on the theme: “Harnessing the Gains of the Horticulture Sector – with Focus on the AFCFTA’’
“If we work together and if we create the right environment, the horticultural business platform is a first step with a horticultural Development Authority led by the private sector is a second important step that we need to take in order to create the right environment for the sector to thrive,” he said.
The ambassador urged Ghanaians to consume enough fruits and vegetables to boost their health, adding that the country was consuming less than 50 per cent of the recommended intake of fruits and vegetables.
“So, producing more is one thing but consuming more and consuming more local vegetables is extremely important,” he said.
He said the sector could be made more attractive for the many young unemployed graduates to work in and to invest and work in, and urged stakeholders to innovate and adopt digital equipment.
7th edition of the Fruits and Vegetables Fair organized by the Alliance of Ghana Vegetable
Producers and Exporters (Ghana Vegetables)
For his part, Dr Solomon Gyan Ansah, the Director of Crop Services, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, said the potential for a very big vegetable industry if Ghanaians met the WHO/FAO recommended minimum consumption of different vegetables and fruits per person per day of 400g for good health and wellbeing.
He said the fruit and vegetable sub-sector was a game changer in the economies of countries that got it right.
“We must also get it right through collaborative efforts, increased business sector investment, and government policy direction,” adding that there was the need to gain a deeper grasp of the dynamics of the expanding fruit and vegetable markets to provide a chance for local and regional horticultural businesses to get together and work to enhance
intra-Africa commerce which will boost our economy and secure a substantial market share on the continent.
He said non-traditional exports, especially fruits and vegetables, had great potential in the EU market and that the AfCFTA provided opportunities for market access into the continent.
AfCFTA also offers investment opportunities that would enhance intra-African trade which will be a supplement to the existing EU market.
Dr Felix Kamassah, President of Ghana Vegetables, urged Ghanaians to take advantage of consuming vegetables to create the opportunity for employment in the agribusiness sector.
“Let us double our efforts to attract our youth to this sector, they can do it more to increase our food basket and sustain the food security,” he said.
Dr Kamassah urged the companies to explore the large market created by AFCFTA to increase volumes of sales and profitability.